What I’m into (This January Edition)

me heart Well would you look at that?  January is coming to a close and my friend Leigh Kramer is calling for a another “What I’m into” linkup.  Let’s check in, shall we?

As you can see on the left there, I really like my new denim shirt.  I was so skeptical about this trend coming back because for a while they were so tacky. Yet,  I’m consistently reassured that I don’t look like a goober when I wear it.

 

Month in [Super Brief] Review:  

On the 6th I turned 31 and then 4 days later Caedmon turned 2.  Then the rest of the month was spent in doctor’s offices or hospitals.  That’s pretty much our January, birthdays and hospital visits (or recovering from them)

In between all that nonsense, I’ve been taking a hard look at what works for us around here and what doesn’t.  As I figure that out I’ll be making changes accordingly.  It’s all about systems for me and figuring out that discipline really does set you free in the end.

PicMonkey Collage1

Best Moments of the Month: 

Every time Noelle sings “Soft Kitty” (Big Bang Theory Style) to the cat I laugh and feel like a friggin awesome mom.

And then there was the time time when Caedmon almost vacuumed Noelle up.

And one of my favorite nights of January was my very belated birthday night-out with the amazing Joely O and Hannah H, complete with conspiracy theories, cake balls and fondue.  You just can’t top that people.

Also, Kel is teaching Caedmon to vacuum the carpet, I raise good boys

PicMonkey Collageq3 Great Reads & Word Discoveries 

This Month I finished two Novels (you will see these numbers go up throughout year):

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty which was a light, fun read that made me really appreciate my marriage.  Although I don’t think you have to be married to enjoy it.

The Tiger’s Wife (nearly done!) by Téa Obrecht: This is a somewhat gray and mysterious read which incorporates an somewhat complex plot line with several rich and ever developing story lines.  Overall a good read, unless something changes in the last 30 pages.  Which it very well could… then I will change this review.

In the Non-Fiction world I read Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood (Fay) and it gave me instant tools for my parenting toolbox…. In fact I’ll be blogging about this more.   I recommend this one if you have kids under the age of six, I am loving the concepts of Love and Logic parenting.

On the TV Screen

I started the New Year by watching the Christmas Special of Downton Abbey, Bad IDEA! I almost needed to call a therapist but…  I still don’t want to talk about it.  I’m going to need to be held when the next season starts.  I’m so invested.

Finally caught up on How I Met Your Mother, and was blown away by “The Robin” play. Go Barney Go!  Although, if that one doesn’t go all the way I’m gonna be mad.  And when, Oh Lord, when will meet Ted’s wife?  (this toe tap is directed at you CBS)

Also been watching Once Upon a Time (old news, but I want Pinocchio back!) and I have started watching Call the Midwife (starting slow, but over good)

Favorite Bites

So you guys, we’ve started eating Paleo over the past few months and the fare coming out of out kitchen looks so different these days.

This all started with Noelle’s need to go gluten and dye free and then progressed with of help from google and my dear sweet friend Anne Bogel.  Now we don’t really eat grains anymore (with the exception of the occasional corn tortilla) which sounds crazy but it seems to be the right choice for us.

photo copy 9 My favorite recipes this month have been: This Beef Stew (with wine instead of beef) and bacon wrapped dates.  Also I invented the most delicious walnut date dip / spread in the world and started a riot at our lifegroup.

This month cannot be concluded without telling you about the best snack in the world:  Take a Banana, Smear it in almond or peanut butter and sprinkle it with coconut…sit down and eat it slowly… it will be gone before you want it to, I promise.

On my Crochet hook

This month I’ve been making tiny hats for little baby heads.  Seriously I get giddy over covering up those fuzzy newborn heads.  If you don’t believe me, have a baby, I’ll probably send you a hat.  (although this is NOT a good enough reason to have a baby)

I also worked on some rag rugs and infinity scarves.  I love the zen time of the day when I’m watching TV and yarn-ing.  They’re my peanut butter and bananas.

PicMonkey Collage-yarn

On the Blog

I started out the month writing about my word for the year which is Faith, this has already been making an impact on my soul and we’re only a month in.

I spent a week having virtual coffee dates with students from my Alma Mater, Kuyper College. It was ridiculously humbling and excited to read their questions and suss through them in my heart.

The most popular mosts of the month (in case you missed out) were

Will you Pray? (8 things I’ve learned to ask for when asked to pray) and

Caedmon’s Surgery or God be with the mommas at the Children’s Hospital

Random Lovin

photo copy 8 My husband Kel and I collaborated on this new end table for our living room, which is constructed from an old cupboard door and 4 antique banisters.

Don’t worry I made sure to sand and lacquer it to seal in the lead paint.  But, if you come over, don’t gnaw on it!

This is now my favorite corner of the house.  We are plotting a ridiculously large ottoman this month, prepare yourself.

Also, I’m loving loose leaf Rooibos tea, seriously I’m doing a least two mugs a day right now.

I’ve started listening to Florence and the Machine and whenever I catch myself singing “Shake it out” Caedmon runs over and helps me, Cut it out that kid is adorable.

So now it’s your turn, what are you loving?  What are you into?  This blog thing is a give and take people, speak up.  

The one where I give up storm chasing

Storm

Back in his college days my husband helped his best friend Andy storm chase across the state of Oklahoma. Andy was a meteorology student and so clouds, their colors, their movement, were his obsession, his favorite art form.  Like any good Oklahoma chaser, he pursued mostly Tornadic cells, waiting to see the hooks and churning that indicated a funnel cloud may touch down.

Kel was a bit more level headed and stayed home on his computer to help Andy avoid getting sucked up into the sky.  Storm chasing is a serious business here in Oklahoma and if you’ve seen the movie Twister, they tell me it’s not too far fetched.  I wouldn’t know, when the weather gets insane I stay on the couch.

Kel heads out to the back porch to check things out, this is typical Okie behavior by the way, when the weather gets crazy, the crazy go outside.  Native Okies = Crazy

I love to using storms as a metaphor for the difficult seasons in our life, I’m not alone in this. Something about the dark, swirling clouds and the ear splitting thunder soulfully resonates with our human experience.

There are two sorts of storms that roll across our lives, both painful, both hard, yet quite different.   Continue reading

Groundhogs Day (for when you wanna drive off a cliff)

Yup, life's like that.

Yup, life’s like that.

My amazing friend Hannah (read more about her at the bottom!) says that lately everyday of her life feels like Groundhog Day.  You know the movie where Bill Murray wakes up and does the same thing all over again, and again, and again, until he drives off a cliff?

 

Because if we’re honest, that’s what life feels like sometimes.  It feels like we’re making great efforts all day long only to fall asleep exhausted wondering if we’re making any this busyness is going anywhere at all.  And then… we get up and do it all over away.

(so put your little hand in mine….)

I wipe the same table so often it makes my head hurt.
I load the same dishwasher while saying the same things as I shoo the same kids out of the bottom rack.
I coerce my children to pick up the same toys off the same living room floor.
I cook meals that seem the same in the same pots at the same times.

And a lot of days I wonder about the smallness of my life, I know that in the grand scheme it amounts to so much but some days it feels like I’m stuck.

The other day I caught myself telling a friend that writing has been hard lately because I’ve exhausted all the inspiration I can find within these four walls.  I commented about how I needed to get out more and have some new experiences to stir up the creative juices.

And while new experiences, vacations and escapes are good, needed sometimes, I don’t think they’re the solution as often as we think.  So often when things are falling apart we think that we need to get away to fix things or find what we’re looking for.   Continue reading

Sudden Cemetery Wondering

photo copy 7 Some people think of this as a grief blog, and sometimes it is.

That’s because I believe in grieving, it’s for read, a long road that must be traversed and not ignored.

I’m thankful to be a part of people’s grief journey and lately I’ve been wondering how I can best do that.

Should I do a grief related post, once a week?  Because it’s not the only reason I write now but it IS a big part of the reason I started writing.

So I guess I could do a day week devoted to grieving.  I could ask other writers to chime in, If you’re a regular here, what are you thoughts?

For today though, it’s a grief related day…

For past month I’ve found myself thinking on the same question: Why do we go to the cemetery?  

This thought process started when we were in Michigan for Christmas.  I was out running some errands for my family (by myself!) and I found myself driving down the street that houses the cemetery where all my family is buried.

As I wound down the street I felt a sudden, pressing need to visit my parent’s gravesite. Continue reading

Water, Wash, Sanitize, Repeat. The motto of the sick house mama.

317955_522932647757_1296263072_n You Guys, what a week already!  And it’s only Wednesday for crying out loud…

Yesterday our 2 year old Caedmon landed in the hospital with the flu and febrile seizures.  I can say with absolute certainty that driving my seizing son to the hospital was one of the scariest and most intense moments of my life.

I felt so helpless and strong all at the same time, which makes no sense except for the fact that it does…

He’s doing a lot better now, no more seizures and the high fevers are thankfully just a memory.  In case you’re counting, thats three hospital visits in the last month, two in the ER and one surgery.

To say I have a new appreciation for my son would be a profound understatement.  If I get the flu it’s because I compulsively kiss those cheeks, all. the. time.

So now we have the flu and we’re passing it around, one by one.  Kel went down today and I’m not feeling 100% but as the mama, I must stay strong.  If you’ve never been the mom of a sick house, I’ll fill you in on the job description,

It’s basically: Water, Wash, Sanitize… repeat. Continue reading

Overcome (to the point of the Happy, Ugly Cry)

Sunday morning I woke up in an awful state.  My chest was tight with anxiety, my mind swimming with unanswered questions.  I could hardly think beyond our budget and calendar.

The weight of it threatened to crush our prospects of having a peaceful or enjoyable Sunday.

Thankfully, God led Kel and I to pray about it all, which isn’t always our usual.  Sometimes I rant and rave with worry until I get put in time out.  And through this, God worked a small miracle and redeemed our Sunday.

We made it to church with only one song left in the worship set, and it was then that these lyrics hit my ears.

775882_28643193 There’s nothing worth more, that will ever come close
nothing can compare, You’re our living hope
Your Presence Lord

I’ve tasted and seen, of the sweetest of Loves
Where my heart becomes free, and my shame is undone
In Your Presence Lord

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your Glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence Lord

Holy Spirit, Jesus Culture, check it out here and then go to iTunes and download it.

Somehow these words hit me with such strength that teared up and grabbed my notebook, sat down and scribbled away.

When I stood back up, I had a new prayer on my lips, so much bigger and better than just: “God make sense of our budget” or “God give us direction for the future.”  I’ll still be saying those prayers, but I’ll be praying this one louder:

I want to be overcome this week, seriously and totally overcome by God’s gifts and fingerprints on my life.  I want to be moved to tears, I want to ugly cry my mascara off for the joy of what I’ve been given. Continue reading

Kuyper Coffee Dates- Friday (Grief Edition)

KuyperCoffeeDates_zpse49f9fa2 

Another day, another coffee date.   I don’t know about you but I’m feeling pretty blessed on this end.

Today I want to cluster some of the grief-specific student questions and put them into one post so that those who need them can access them easily.  I know that this topic was peppered throughout the other questions, but I want to dig into this specifically.  

“I would ask her what the hardest thing for her was through the accident of her sister and the loss of her parents, and how did she make it through?  I know the answer is ultimately God, but there are everyday moments in which the strength seems to deplete … and that is where I want to hear what she has to say”

The hardest thing for me about death is the unwavering permanence of it. There is no bargaining that will change it, no medical staff that can un-do it.  We cannot go back in time and save those we have lost, they we are left with a brand new life, with a huge gaping hole.

I can tell you some of the little things that I did to make it through: I was worried about forgetting things, so I wrote down memories and collected pictures and items that were very important to me in my relationship with my parents. 

I took a lot of baths because the tub was the only place where I was still and alone with my deep and painful thoughts, naked before God in every way.  

After about a week I went back to a modified version of my usual routine whether it was work, school or my family schedule.  I found that it wasn’t helpful to sit and dwell on things, that the processing and healing would come in the midst of daily living.  When it did I stopped and gave it priority and I was blessed by others who gave me space for this.

I went to counseling, every time, because I wanted to be sure that I was moving through each season with as much mental health as I could muster.

I can sum it up by imploring you to be intentional about grieving.  Telling your story in trusted settings be open about your aching.  There is no quick fix, there will always be an empty chair, but there is a better place ahead, when the wound becomes a scar and the breathing comes easier.  Continue reading

Kuyper Coffee Dates- Thursday

KuyperCoffeeDates_zpse49f9fa2 Hello and welcome to our Thursday coffee date, what are you drinking?  Me?  French Press house blend with a splash of almond milk, cheers.

So last night I took my treasured stack of Kuyper student letters to bed with me and devoured them like they were a black forest brownie sundae.  I only read them in short bursts because I always want to save some for later, I don’t want them to run out!

I’m always flattered, touched and blown over by what these students picked up on.  I’m so giddy to be sharing it with you guys, Squeeeee!  So giddy!

Can I share two non-questions first?  I hope the students don’t mind….

First of all this gem makes me do a happy dance cha-cha, read on and you’ll see why:

“I better understand my own mother’s point of view on life.  The busyness of trying to get three small children fed and ready for church and school, how tired she much have felt everyday, how even when everyone else could sit and rest she stayed on her feet to make sure had clean clothes to wear and hot food to eat.  I have always appreciated my mom but now I see her with more understanding.  For that, I am grateful.”

I love you student!  Go give your mom a hug, maybe bring her a latte?  I am so glad that you picked up on this because I had no clue how much my mom (and Dad) went through until I was in the thick of it: doling out snacks and matching up tiny socks, dead on my feet.  Reading this made me ridiculously happy, gold star for you!

And then this:

“most of the time Leanne plays the part of a witty, spunky, sage minister”

Ah!  That may be one of the best compliments I’ve received in my life and no lie, I am adding it into my twitter bio immediately, I may get it tattooed on my arm too, you know, for good measure.

Okay, now that those two amazing student quotes are out of the way onto the questions.

“I would ask Leanne about her own view on parenting because she seems to have had a hard childhood with two very different parents, how has this changed her view of what it means to be a parent? What sides will she draw from, or not draw from?”

Okay so for starters this isn’t an easy question to answer but it’s a great one. I honestly believe that I was blessed with two amazing parents who were struggling through some hard circumstances and illnesses.  I thank God for them on a daily basis and I no longer hold their struggles against them.

There are definitely positives from my childhood that we’re recycling in the here and now.  Kel and I are very intentional about surrounding discipline with a lot of conversation and these moments look a lot more like discipling than discipline.  We also work on intentionally lifting our children up verbally, especially in the areas where they have shortcomings. 

We spend a lot of time together as a unit and want our children to feel a sense of belonging within our family.  We want to be a close knit group and create a strong foundation of memories for them to build upon, they are our loved children and each other’s dear friends.  

Now onto the things I’m mimicking.  My mom was deliberate about reading to me when I was little and when I sit with my kids and read I feel her spirit rejoicing.  As for my Dad?  He was really good at championing our passions, if we were truly into something he was all about fostering that.  He was the lead band booster for my brother and never missed a single one of my choir concerts.  This is something Kel and I are intentional about repeating with our own kids.

“If I could sit down with her and talk, I would ask her how she is able to be so open with such a public audience.”

For as long as I can remember I have worn my emotions on the outside, for everyone to see, sometimes this bit me in the butt.  I don’t discuss my heart with just anyone but when I feel comfortable I don’t hold back on what’s really going in my heart.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t share everything on this blog, because some emotions aren’t helpful and some stories aren’t mine to share.  Yet, when it comes to my personal questions on faith and the grittiness of the journey I believe that God has called me to share what’s on my heart.  He gives me the words and then does what he wants with them.  

“I would ask her how she describes the God she serves, even though she has been through so much joy and pain.”

Wow, this is a really good question and one that I would have never thought to ask.  It really gets to the heart of who I think God is and how I see his fingerprints on my life. You could learn a lot about someone by hearing them answer this question.

To me God is the genius of creation, with limitless wisdom and creative energy that I can’t begin to comprehend. He is the author of all that I am and the giver of all that I have.  He put me right here, on purpose, for a purpose.

To top it all off he loves me so much that he send his most precious son to be reunited with me.  His greatest joy is to see my heart close to him, fully alive.  

Although, how I would describe him doesn’t always line up with my emotions. Sometimes I’m angry and I let bitterness come between us.  But still he’s always my Father, in my mind there is no other option, no where else to place my faith.

Wow that wraps up another great coffee date.  Pencil me in tomorrow and we will chat further.  If you have questions to add to those of the students, toss them in the comments and I’ll do my best.

Caedmon’s Surgery or God be with the mommas at the Children’s Hospital

I’m going to take a little break from the Kuyper Coffee Dates and tell you about our yesterday, do you mind?

photo copy 5 Yesterday our newly 2 year old son Caedmon had outpatient surgery to fix a hernia of sorts called a Communicating Hydrocele.  It was the first time I went through surgery with one of my children and let me tell you, there is no such thing as minor surgery when it’s your child on the table.

We went in at 7am and the first surgery in the pediatric urology department had been cancelled, so we were up first. They rushed us through pre-op so they could get a jump on their surgical schedule.  Caedmon was so angry with us and the staff because he was confused and so thirsty from being denied liquids that morning.

I remember crabby too when I couldn’t have water the morning of my C-section and unlike Caedmon, I understood what was going on.

After pre-op we met with the anesthesiologists and they asked one of us to come in for a few minutes and hold him while they held used the gas mask to sedate him pre-anesthesia.  So I donned the paper surgical gear and followed the wheeled crib to the operating room, we got him to breathe into the mask and I watched his eyes roll back as he relaxed on the table.  I was an emotional wreck inside, weak in the knees, although I kept my cool on the outside.

Diptic

I was quickly escorted out of the operating room and back to Kel where we exchanged “now what?” looks.  We decided to grab some breakfast and bring it back to the surgical waiting room, although I was racked with guilt the whole time.  What kind of Mother can just eat eggs while her son has surgery?

We sat there staring at the patient status screen waiting for Caedmon’s number to change from the green “Operating Room” status to the the pink that indicated he was in “Post-Op.”

Before we knew it my cell was ringing.  It was a member of the surgical staff informing us that they were finishing up with his surgery and needed to see us in the consultation room. Continue reading

Kuyper Coffee Dates- Tuesday

KuyperCoffeeDates_zpse49f9fa2 Today I’m continuing a week long series called Kuyper Coffee Dates, for more information read up on Day 1.  The short version is as follows:

A beloved college professor of mine gave her students an assignment to select a blog which spoke to spiritual formation, mine was one of the choices.  They had to write a short paper about their reading experiences which included an answer to this question:

“If you could go out for coffee with this writer, what questions would you ask her?”

A few weeks back I got a stack of about 20 college papers, all reflections and questions about my blog.  I was beyond flattered and humbled and I want to answer these  questions as best I can.

So Kuyper Students, readers let’s have coffee, shall we?

Is it hard to do something so public, like sharing your story on a blog, and still give all the glory to God without wanting to keep it for yourself?

Yes and no all at the same time, while it’s easy to puff up with pride when the page views are high and the comments are many, my pit fall seems to be completely losing focus of who gives me the words in the first place.

I do catch myself thinking I’m the shiz every once in a while and when that happens I remind myself that I am just another one of God’s kids who has clumsily managed to be be faithful with gifts I’ve been given.

The best lesson I’ve learned on this subject is that God is the one who is to be glorified in my writing, if I start taking it for myself or start putting my writing above my Creator he swiftly takes away the words.

He won’t fuel me to do something that is taking precedence over our relationship and communion.

Your husband Kel seems like an amazing Father and Husband, how has his spiritual leadership been a part of your journey?

No disputing this one, Kel is an amazing guy, so glad you picked up on that!  Kel and I have already weathered some crazy storms together.  Some moments the pain brought us together, sometimes we allowed it to come between us.

Yet during every painful season Kel rarely left my side.  His quiet prayers and support were the strongest spiritual leadership that he could have possibly shown me.  There were no words that were going to take away the pain I was feeling, so his quiet support was the simple, yet strong leadership I needed.

He loved me in simple ways by putting me to bed early, watching our 1 year old during my two hour baths and putting up with my ever changing moods.  His love was healing and I felt God’s love through his actions.

If someone asked me how to best support a spouse through grief, I would tell them it’s to dole out mountains of grace.

The odds are that your spouse isn’t going to be their usual self for a while so give grace and drop as many expectations as possible. This when they don’t meet your expectations or can’t engage your typical routines you’re not as upset or surprised.

I would ask Leanne how she has been able to go through all this grief and pain and still have such a strong and unwavering faith in God?

Okay, I am so glad that you got unwavering from my writing but to be honest with you, it’s felt very… waivery.

I’ve been angry, cynical and I’ve as good as given God the silent treatment.  There have been seasons where my most prominent prayers have been little more than: “What the hell are you doing here?” and “Please just sustain us.”

Yet I will tell you that not even once did I consider walking away from my faith. I screamed, threw selfish tantrums and bought into a hundred useless lies but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere.  God was my Father, even though I was one of his most pissed off and petulant kids.

I don’t know how I did that, I was real with my community of faith, they knew I was angry and in no mood for trite platitudes.  I don’t have any tips or tricks on this one, just keep talking to God, keep taking steps out of your anger and cynicism and he will be faithful to lead you into healing.