Still here and here, still.

Us. Loveseat.

Good morning from my office, the one next to our dining room table which is covered in laundry and uneaten pancakes, still a bit sticky from last night’s mac n cheese for dinner.
Cuz we’re fancy when Kel’s out of town. We sent him on sabbatical by the way, shipped him to a cabin in the woods to talk walks and read books and pray.  I think it’s my season to take special care of him, because marriage has seasons like that, doesn’t it?

So I’ve been solo parenting these past few days, but I refuse to whine about it because I know too many single moms that do it solo every.day.  They’re some of my most super-est heroes. (I’m looking at you Jenae, you stalker)  

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A few hours before Kel left I posted a chalkboard list, asking for ideas to pass the timewhile Kel is away.  I was going to sew the kids a puppet theater, and take them to the library, we were going to make the 45 min trek to the Children’s Museum.

I had big plans to cram the hours full so they’d fly right by.

But we didn’t do most of that list, we played and baked and read a lot but we only left the house together once.  There just wasn’t anyplace we needed to go, we found great contentment in the sweet right here.

Pitawich!We dug into all those new Christmas toys.  We giggled a lot as Noelle invented a new lunch called the pita-wich, a sandwich, IN A PITA!  We think it’s funny but odds are you  had to be here.

I wiped their noses a lot.

We ate mostly clementines and leftovers.

I annoyed Caedmon by sneaking up on him and clipping clothespins on his shirt.

I became a novice railroad engineer by building tracks on the train table.

photo copy 4 We watched Cars 2, a lot and I let them Vroom cars on my head and legs.

My dear friend Jessica came over to help me a bit and I opened up my heart to her.

I spent a lot of time sitting still, snuggling my children more than I have in months.

I doled out hundreds of kisses on their faces and necks, irritating amounts of kisses.

I’m a goer, a doer, a producer, but these past few days I realized that how much I’ve shortchanged my motherhood.

photo copy 3 When they fell asleep I cleaned up the most pressing messes and then headed to bed to read and write and be still some more.

Because we needed this cozy, simple stillness. I needed to remember who I am and see these two beauties for who they are, which is exactly who they were created to be.

Sometimes I see the mothering as the distraction, the roadblock standing between me and what I need to be doing.

photo copy 2 I know that sometimes it will still feel like that.  Things aren’t perfect around here, I’m not living in an permanent state of mom-gasm like some women SEEM to be.  I freak out, I lose it, I need a break from the noise and crazy on a bi-hourly basis.

But this morning as I sip my luke warm coffee I’m simply thankful for the sweet, still right here.

I’m also thankful that Kel gets home in about 5 hours… not that I’m counting.

What’s grounding you these days?  How have you spent the first week of the New Year?

Choosing Joy 2-19-12

I’m still wandering through Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts and I have started using her nifty app to count the gifts I see in my own life.  I am trying to do 1000 this year, but as is always the case with my bible reading plans and devotional guides etc, I’m a bit behind.  Typically I let this make me feel bad, but I’m just going to keep counting gifts, reading on and breathing deep.

I love the concept of choosing joy no matter where life takes you, because attitude is a choice.  And its one that effects the day of everyone you interact with.  So on Sundays I like to sit and write about some of the ways that I managed, by the grace of God, to find and choose joy this week.

In Pictures:

These are taken from my flikr photo stream, which I use via Ann Voskamps 1000 gifts app on my iPhone.  Hopefully before 2012 comes to a close I’ll be counting gift #1000+

Gift #40- This year, inspired by our friends Andy and Katie, we celebrated ValenTOMS day on valentines day.  1) because we needed new shoes and 2) we like this company.  TOMS shoes are perfect for us because they slip on, work well in the Oklahoma climate 80% of the year and make us look hipper than we really are.  Win Win Win.

Gift #41- Is there anything that makes a gal happier than a fridge full of useful, delicious and healthy food?!  With Berries on sale in February?!  I mean diamonds are great but they don’t help me when both kids are screaming for a post-nap snack, but blueberries and string cheese do.  This right here, this is a gift.

Gift #44- Last night as we unwound in bed Kel filled me in on the Joshua Bell Washington Post Experiment, click the link if you need to be filled in too.  The whole idea behind this is that we walk by immaculate beauty all the time and are too busy to see it.  That concept caused me to hop outside barefoot this morning to snap this photo of the sun rising over our neighbor’s farm and the light shone like a prism through our glass front door.

On the Blog (in case you missed it)

The most popular posts this week were 5 valentines tips for imperfect marriages, like mine and The Coldest March, the loss of my Dad.

This week was the biggest week I’ve had on my blog yet and I am so thankful to all of you who commented and shared my story, please continue to do so anytime God speaks to you through this space.  

In Food:

Kel made us the pioneer woman’s pork tenderloin on Thursday night and it melted in our mouths.  There are still 4 slices leftover, and I think we may have a rock, paper scissors duel for them at lunch.  I’m going Rock but don’t tell Kel.

Jessica Seinfeld’s Banana Peanut Butter muffins as found in Deceptively Delicious.  I always have what I need in the house to make them, and this week it was one of our 2 yr old’s first baking experiences.  She got to enjoy something she made herself and I didn’t have to cook breakfast this morning, special stuff right there.

In Books

I feel like there is so often a pull to read only non fiction, and for almost my entire 20s I adhered to this mantra.  I purchased Donald Miller, Brian McLaren and Shane Claiborne and to be honest, I didn’t always read them all the way through.  I learned that I need to layer fiction and non fiction to make reading work for me.  Fiction is like a treat and it helps me be a better thinker, mother and writer.  It’s an escape from my daily life into someone else’s and sometimes it has a more positive effect on me than non fiction.

Currently I’m enjoying The Island by Elin Hilderbrand and it’s a good, easy read that lets you in on some family drama set on a tiny New England Island.  A Perfect bath tub read, which is exactly what I did for over an hour last night.

On Screens:

This week I enjoyed a little Grey’s Anatomy, the Movie Crazy, Stupid Love, and The Big Bang Theory of course.  I still have yet to start Downton Abbey (ack!), but honestly the thing I enjoyed most was this ridiculously fun you tube video about a guy singing his order at sonic.  More songs should include lyrics about Cheese Tots.

I pray that this week, you become a bit more talented at choosing joy and counting gifts in your own life.

Less is More, Less is Better

Good Morning, I’m still alive, just drowning in snot with a cold that has had me down for the count for a couple of days.  However, I have maintained a positive attitude and although its failed to chase my illness away, it certainly has made enduring it loads easier.

Moving on from snot, which is always a good thing, I’m still reeling from the message I heard at church Sunday morning, entitled “Better.”  I don’t want you to feel like I am always trying to coax you to watch/listen to our church’s sermons but I can almost guarantee you that if you check this out you won’t regret it.  I know your time is valuable and your resources limited, but if you take 35 minutes to listen to this in your car or while you workout you may find your year will take a completely different turn.  If you don’t I’ll buy you a cup of coffee or something…

Check it out Here

If you don’t get a chance to listen to it, here is my quick summary:

Our culture is obsessed with more, we do more, have more and take in more than any other culture at any other time on this earth.  We are overwhelmed, distracted and exhausted and if we are asked what our top priorities are we would say something like: God, family, giving, wellness, friends, etc.  But typically if we were to look at how we spend our time, it doesn’t line up with what we claim is most important.  This message will challenge you to cut back your spending and commitments, throw out what you don’t need both literally and figuratively, and turn off the TV and computer more often so that you can connect with what will sustain and last.

Lately, I have felt overwhelmed with trying to be and do too many different versions of myself.  Last week my good friend and guru Jenni challenged me to look at my interests and commitments as different versions of myself:  Such as gourmet cook Leanne, crafty Leanne, Author Leanne, Health-Nut Leanne, Wife Leanne, Mother Leanne, Friend Leanne, Budget Leanne,  etc… Then she challenged me with this question:  Can all of these Leanne Co-exist and thrive during this season in your life?  Or do some “Leannes” need to warm the bench for a while?  Can crafty Leanne make curtains and hand sew party favors while Author Leanne gets her book proposal done?  Can budget Leanne keep the grocery bill in check while Gourmet Leanne prepares involved food, taking huge chunks of time away from Mom Leanne who wants to connect with the kids?

No… there are too many “good” Leannes and they are taking away from what is “better.”  A streamlined and more peaceful Leanne… Who may or may not wear a cape… but crafty Leanne has no time to make streamlined Leanne a cape, so I shall remain cape-less… for now…

So.. Essentially some of my desires and ideas, which are great, need to go in the “someday pile” so that the most important callings and passions can be realized now.  My house will have to be a bit chaotic and go without window treatments if I want to get a book proposal done.  My meals may be simpler for a while because I have a 1 and a 2 year old who want my attention and will only be little for a few more precious years.

So this week I packed away a lot of my crafts and I literally got rid of over 350 items in our house to simplify, prioritize and streamline.  My hands are too full and my life stuffed with too much good, that I am constantly frustrated and unable to achieve the great “God things” that I can feel in my heart.

Better has been a word that has always stood to remind me of all I am not, yet this teaching series from Lifechurch is reminding me of who I really am, of all the color that I bring to this world.  This new view of Better is helping me lay down the demanding way that the enemy wants me to view myself and pick up the way God is calling me to live “better”, fuller and free.

I can actually feel some clean corners start to open up in my soul, and I am excited to see what God has in store for them.