Christmas and spinning the plates

I love writing devotions.

Christmas, Easter, devotions for everyday–if it’s a short little devotion, I’m in. Not sure why I love them so much; but thinking it has to do with what I love the most: writing in little bites combined with overthinking.

The latter of which is a tendency of my personality that can border on a bad habit, left to my own devices too long. But, a deadline helps corral that. And a husband that reminds me softly when I get out of balance.

So, with all that needless backstory, here is one of my Advent devotionals.

One of three pieces I’ve written so far this season; a way to preach to myself too, that perhaps the wonder and the joy is not all up to us this time of year.

A good reminder I need, maybe you need too, if you’re anything like me and perhaps so often forget we’re not the one that hung the stars.

Enjoy-

https://everydaynatalie.com/dont-need-spin-plates/

everyday natalie

 

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Bookended by grief

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Image courtesy of Caroline Attwood

O Lord, how long? I wonder silently, busying myself in the kitchen so perhaps it’s not so noticeable to my family, that I am really worrying way too much lately.

“Mom?” The littlest says, “Why are you quiet?”

I’m a quiet person by nature, but at home–he’s right: it’s an overflowing fountain of words of advice, funny songs, silly sayings and all sorts of things that just sort of fall out of my mouth all day. Which, depending upon things, can make me the best mom in the world some days, or the most annoying ever.

Most days, it’s the latter.

I should have known better than to keep quiet. They are so quick, so sharp, know me of course, better than I know myself.

“Mom,” he asks, “are you sad?”

Yes, I think, sucking in a big breath and heaving out a long sigh. I am sad. I am heavy with all the things of this life.

O Lord how long with all this, I pray.

I try to be a good person and a good Jesus follower. But lately, I wonder. I wonder, on days like these, emotional days or bad, bad news especially, if God is with us at all.

A thought, of course, that good, strong Christian people are not supposed to have.

O Lord, how long.

With all the things that have been unearthed. With death. With destruction. Another, another, another. I know better, to look at the news when I’m already tired and worn down.

It’s a new world He’s forming, I remind myself. It’s rebellious, it’s gloriously subversive, it’s a good thing, shaping new things out of trash, out of the utter you-know-what. That’s art if I’ve ever seen it, the true definition of redemption. 

But for the birth pains.

Eventually I will rejoice, but for the pain. But for the marks left on all of us. But for the marks left on my heart by the exquisite pain we’ve had to witness, to endure. But for the grief and anguish and confusion of these times.

It’s a wonder we can hold on at all, as for the sharp, marring edge of the shell we’re breaking out of.

In that, of course, that eventually, lies hope. A great, big hope.

But in the meantime, so much, Lord. I’m feeling bookended by grief upon grief. Anxiety upon anxiety. I forget I’m hemmed in before and behind with care.

O Lord, how I long to remember. To recall deep in my heart that I’m lovingly hemmed in before and behind, looked after. And O Lord, YES, your kingdom come. The sooner, the better.

But O Lord, how long?

Done. And then (another) hiccup.

So–the wall I posted about earlier this month?

Done!

The paper pile in the back? Whelp, that’s never done, right?

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So, YAY! (To be clear–yay for the wall. The constant influx of paper and things to do (and forget to remember) can take a hike.)

Since I have now decided to add on a WHOLE HOUSE repaint in the midst of, oh, fall, life, school-aged kids with homework, and all the other zillion things like lessons and dishes–you know, small things–I now have a new conundrum: what color to paint the other wall.

The one with nothing but natural light and windows. As the “gray” seen here (that’s really a brown, if you must know) doesn’t work on the opposite wall–it looks like a cave, and not the cozy kind.

It’s always something, isn’t it? Try to change one thing and bam! Something else comes up. I should know better, but here I am, still learning the same lessons. Oh well.

In the meantime, trying hard to hold onto that quote on the wall and hoping my family remembers the wonderfulness of me…as perfection I don’t think is happening anytime soon.

And neither, it seems, is finding the right “gray” for that wall.

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Undone.

Like so many other things in my life, this wall is still undone.

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I’m sure I’m not the only one with things left undone.

But it’s not that piece that gets me; it’s the voice in my head that in order to do a project well and good and lovely, it needs to be done in a certain way and time frame.

“Do it perfect,” it whispers.

“Not right,” the voice reminds me in my thoughts before bed.

Most days I wonder why I listen to this voice – this little naggy, uptight voice – at all.

So a little something for all of us to remember when the voice of perfection gets too loud:

 

You can have it all, just not all at the same time. Or, in my wall scenario here, for me, not within in a day, maybe. Unless you bring in lots of help.

For you with little ones: Hold tight. The years go quickly, but the moments last forever.

And one day (this story I’m preaching to myself) you’ll have shiny clean floors, new carpet, and well, perhaps a freshly painted house.

But right now?

Time to rejoice in the life here. Fingerprints everywhere. Toys on floors. Chortles of laughter through the hallways with the terrible carpets.

And a real-life reminder that contentment and fulfillment never mentioned anything about perfection.

#truth

Mom of the Year

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Mom of the Year

Let her kids eat a dinner of Cheetos and fruit, blessed it, and called it good.

Mom of the Year

Forgot to put sunscreen on the children on at least a handful of visits to the pool.

Mom of the Year

Almost drove home with an extra kid in her car (carpool works well when you remember to drop that last kid off at their own home.)

Mom of the Year

Lost her patience with her family this season more times than she can count.

Mom of the Year

Decided one night to paint her toenails instead of reading that last, final story and of course instead of doing the long piled-up dishes.

Mom of the Year

Was sure her children would be shoeless wherever they went, as the shoes went on slow as molasses EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Mom of the Year

Gave into every whim of hers, including losing her cool and letting all the kids have all her energy and forgot to save any for her husband. And proceeded to sigh more than once when all he wanted was just some time with her.

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Mom of the Year 

Listened to that story that she’d her already a hundred times and nodded politely, made eye contact and in an instant, made her three-year-old feel valued.

Mom of the Year

Withheld judgement (and cuss words) about the state of how many diaper changes she did that day and just did them without complaint, without fanfare, and certainly without pay.

Mom of the Year

Waited patiently while someone learned to put on their shoes, pour their own cereal out, complete with milk spills.

Mom of the Year

Chose the extra story and snuggles one night.

Mom of the Year

Infused her car with music, laughter, and a bit of magic when she sensed the carpool friend was feeling a little down.

Mom of the Year

Cleared her schedule, reset her heart, and let the laundry go and listened to her husband’s day and with him, just spent time. 

Mom of the Year

Made a proper dinner, complete with vegetables, all the food groups, and carried on with a smile despite all the complaints about said vegetables.

Mom of the Year

Is wise enough to know that her mothering is the sum of all of her days, not just one, not just a season. And knows that she is doing alright, despite life not being always okay. She knows, deep within, that mothering neither lies in the accolades nor the failures, but showing up for her family day after day.

Bucket list – check.

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How long I’ve waited for this: published. 

And no, I haven’t written a book yet (parts are still swimming, loose in my head; not in any logical order yet.)

But, since I have started writing (at 15, if we’re being precise) I have always wanted to be just exactly this.

Published.

And here I am, years (and years!) later.

Exactly that.

Published.

My good friends call my bluff on the notion of being published.

“But didn’t I read a devotional on some blog by you?” they ask, confused.

“Or what about that bio in Dallas Baby?” they wonder aloud, looking at me perplexed, as if I don’t remember parts of my own journey.

Yes, I’ve been published before, several places actually. Five different blogs and magazines have published my work.

Which yes, counts for something. Counts for a lot, actually.

But me, the competitive, bar-can-never-be-quite-high-enough me, well, one of my bucket list items is to be published by a publication that doesn’t know who I am. That has no stock in me. That is not invested in the outcome or cares about my feelings.

Because as much I love my friends and family dearly and trust them and what they say about my writing, I need to know (it’s an insane need, I realize) that my words can stretch and resonate with someone else “out there.” Someone else that could care less as to who I am. Someone who doesn’t know me, just knows they like the words I’ve written, that these words have hit the right note somewhere in their soul.

After years of being known for other talents (the ones that keep you in a steady job and productive, and get you glowing reviews from your supervisors) I want to know one thing. One thing about what I truly feel is my calling, what I am here for.

Do I have any talent?

The big challenge with my writing (for me, personally) has always been what do other people think? Perhaps I put too much stock in what others think. Or, perhaps I don’t, as I write only what resonates with me; I don’t give much headspace to the critics. But I’ve always wondered (and yes, I’ve always overthink things a bit too.)

Would my writing resonate? Get published?

Well. Yes.

Bucket list number one item checked off.

http://bit.ly/coltpiece

colt MAW

Summer is here.

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It’s summer, isn’t it?

Don’t know about you, but here it’s full-on summer: hot, muggy and well, the sorts of days you either hang out in damp bathing suits. Or take long afternoon naps followed by fresh corn for dinner. The season of simple, earthly delights.

We’re in the thick of it now; no one is dreaming in anxious anticipation about popsicles and trips anymore. We’ve already gone through several boxes of those around here.

And, we’re packing and unpacking; looking forward with delight, back with contentment. Or, well, sometimes, depending upon how the vacation/trip/family visit went, just glad to be home.

I don’t know about you, but like this time of year. These days after the sheen of the newness and excitement of the new season has worn off a little. You just settle into things for a bit.

The moments where you’re focused on enjoyment rather than anticipation.  Sitting and drinking iced tea as opposed to planning out the next weekend to manage your family’s calendar and/or sanity levels for the rest of the month. Summer: the lovely, in-between season of not rushing from one event or holiday celebration to another. Winter–looking at you. You’re suspect, as always.

No, this time of year we’re in that sweet spot: comfortable. Easing into our daily routines without the crazy-making that is May and December.

Summer. Long heated days with sometimes a swim afternoon (or day) here and there.

And a great deal of the very best days: the days too-hot or too-rainy, full of Legos, ice cream, projects and a fresh set of books to get lost in.