Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Wednesday List

1. A newish acquaintance/friend learned that I am a writer (if I can still say that having not gotten my post-baby mojo back yet), and asked me on Sunday how the writing was going. It really touched me, and being asked always inspires me. Yes, novel, I see you sitting lonely and dusty over there. This week, we'll make a date, I promise.

2. I've done something to my shoulder, and I suspect it's related to wearing my baby ring sling. My shoulder hasn't been quite right for months, and it's the shoulder that the sling rests on. I wore Matrim in it yesterday to storytime at the library and I am HURTING today. Cooincidence? Sadly, I doubt it. I love the sling. I don't want to give it up. But I also love not being in excruciating pain whenever I lift my arm so...

3. I have been woefully slow in finishing library books on my Kindle, and previously, as long as I didn't navigate away from the book I could still read it even after my loan had ended. But yesterday when I went to turn my Kindle on and read, I was greeted with the home screen and the sad news that my loan had expired. Oh well! Motivation, right?

4. Speaking of motivation...I've started a crochet project and I'm pretty excited about it. Although I suspect I may have to consume a few nighttime cups of coffee to finish it by the deadline. It's a baby gift and I don't think the baby is going to wait for me to finish before making his appearance.

5. What am I reading...well, since my library book was returned, I'll go back to Queen of the Tearling, which is fine so far, but isn't really lighting my fire. I just finished For the Love, by Jen Hatmaker (which I will write more words about another day) and it was really great. My first non-fiction of the year, and an absolute success!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

This journey

I'm not sure if it's universally true (few things are, after all), but I've noticed something staying at home with the munchkins. Because I spend a lot of my day doing repetitive and menial tasks with and for children who are either non or only barely verbal, my brain either a) goes into hibernation or b) just churns out random thoughts. Obviously, I sometimes share those random thoughts here. Sometimes they are fleeting and about as in depth as a bullet point on a list, but sometimes I ponder things a little more...philosophical. Or at least, philosophical-adjacent.

Lately, I find myself thinking about people. About relationships long, short, permanent, and transient. I lived in the same city from the time I was three years old, in the same house from the time I was five until I went to college. I have a friend whom I have been friends with since we were both in preschool, and every time I make a trip to the homestead, we still make a point to at least have a cup of coffee and touch base. While Sandy is perhaps my closest of my old home-friends, there are still a lot of friends I am happy to see when I visit my family in Missouri. But, like a lot of people, I went to college in another state, to a university where more people were from "away" than not. And I made friends. Some friendships lasted only one semester before sliding into acquaintance, and some lasted through my four years in Arkansas. Some are Facebook friends, or Christmas card friends, and a few are still really-good-phone-call-I'm-coming-to-visit-kindred-spirit friends. (there's also that guy I friend!) Fast forward to Houston, then Wilmington, NC, then Austin, then back to Houston. And I know that many people move a lot more and more often than I have, but even moving that much results in a lot of paths crossing. A lot of relationships. A lot of life intersecting with other life. A lot of community, and deep bonds, and family-building. A lot of joy, and a lot of loss. And that doesn't even count the extremely short-term interactions with people met traveling, or on a temporary job, or the friend of a friend who is only visiting, or friendships built online around common interests. There have been times where I've wondered -- is it worth it? Is it worth investing in a relationship when I've invested in so many before? When one of us may move? Why did I spend the time building friendships, only to leave the city a year later? Maybe it's not worth it.

But the thing is, those interactions matter. Even a smile and helping hand in the grocery store from a fellow shopper who realizes the difficulty of unloading a grocery cart with a baby strapped to your chest -- every interaction matters. I am better for having met you. For having spent time with you, for being privileged to have my road intersect with your road. 

Recent moves have brought these thoughts to mind more than once in the past couple of years and I know I've written about this before, but lately the people at Shevet Achim have been on my heart and mind, and that's why I'm putting words to these thoughts again. Shevet Achim is a beautiful part of God's Kingdom, and people who are really and truly doing Kingdom work. This organization brings children with congenital heart defects into Israel to have life-saving surgery at world class medical centers. These children are Kurdish, Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi. They are being cared for and loved on by Christians and Jews. What is more beautiful than that? The volunteers and staff at Shevet Achim live in close community, and when you are with them for even a short time they embrace you. The people we met were examples of keeping your eyes on Jesus, and on trying to live a life of love, peace, and truth. I wish everyone could spend a couple of weeks at Shevet Achim, but even if you can't, spend a few minutes reading their web site and praying for people who are being Jesus in a unique and special way.

So, to whoever you are. You know who you are. Maybe we studied, ate, laughed, cried, prayed, traveled, played, worked, argued, worshiped, ran, or even lived together. Maybe we just shared a meal, or a cup of coffee. Maybe we shared life. Maybe we are still sharing life. No matter how our roads crossed, or how long they followed the same path -- and even if they are still right there, side by side  -- thank you for leaving your mark, for filling my cup.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Reading....The Night Circus

The Night Circus

Y'all. I'm not sure why it took me so long to read The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I think when it came out I was caught up reading a lot of other things, and just didn't pay much attention to the reviews except to note that they were a mixed bag. But when a recommendation from my good friend Mary coincided with an available credit on Audible -- well. This book. Two magicians, two schools of thought, one game. The venue: a circus. It's a simple premise, and a simple plot. But as the story unfolds and the game begins, things get complicated -- as they usually do. A circus means people -- people who are unwittingly players in an enigmatic game with few rules and no end in sight, a game overseen by two men who have been dueling by proxy for a very long time.  While The Night Circus does have an interesting plot, the book is really about the characters, the setting, and the atmosphere. It's a book that unfolds slowly, carefully, and beautifully. It's a book that seeps into your consciousness. It's a book with many layers and hidden corners, where every detail is deliberately and carefully chose. Nothing wasted. Beautiful. It's not a book for everyone, but it's my kind of book for sure.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Monday List

1. I'm craving popcorn at the moment, but I'm too lazy to make some. I make it on the stovetop old-school style because I don't love microwave and don't have an air popper. I settled for some cereal...which is my number two favorite evening snack.

2. Baby sleep, man. It's a rough time in our house. I tend to be a fixer, and it's hard when I can't clearly identify the main problem (probably because there are many factors contributing to the rocky sleep situation). I guess it's just a matter of addressing one thing at a time, and remembering to give things time to work before trying a different tactic.

3. Chocolate.

4. Downton Abbey is back!! I plan to thoroughly enjoy every moment of the last season. Although....I really think they could dial back on the Bates and Anna drama.

5. I really, really, really need to break my no-knitting streak. Partly because I miss it. Partly because I have a gift that's not going to make itself for a baby that's going to show up one day pretty soon. I'm just finding it hard to get back in the groove.

6. I got to see snow last week! I was in Missouri visiting family and it snowed! I may or may not have been compelled to step outside at one point to smell the snow. I've lived in the south too long.

Happy Random Monday, y'all!

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's a new year, friends

For a week I've been writing drafts in my head of a New Year post. But it's taken this long to actually sit down and write down some thoughts. Better late than never, right? I like celebrating the New Year. I like reflection and fresh starts. Obviously, you don't need a holiday to reflect on what's going on in your life or give yourself a fresh start, but sometimes it's nice to have a little encouragement to do that. (It's also one reason I like back to school time...even though I'm not in school). 

I think I've mentioned before that our friends in North Carolina have been hosting a New Year's Eve party for several years. One of the best parts is New Year's Day, when most of us get back together for breakfast and lots of coffee, think about the past year, and set some goals for the new one. It's fun, and in the process we've all learned a bit about setting New Year's goals.

1. Set goals -- not resolutions. A goal is something you're working toward, something to reach for and strive for, but also something that can adapt when reality presents itself. You don't break goals. You may not meet it exactly, but there's not the same sense of failure as when you break a resolution.

2. My friend Ryan schooled me on the proper way to set a goal: be concrete, and give yourself a specific time frame and/or parameters. For example: my goal is not to "get healthy." My goal is to lose 15 pounds by December and run two 5k races. My goal is not to "write more" but to write a certain number of days per week.

3. On the other hand -- it's also nice to have some less concrete goals. Like that I want to be more purposeful with my time, more intentional about investing in relationships. These kind of goals give me something to think about, give me room to be creative within the realities of day to day life. It's why I'm a big fan of the One Word concept. One word to frame your upcoming year.

4. Realize that you're not going to meet your goals on January 1. Which is good. Because I've got a whole year to work my way up to writing 6 days a week, playing my piano at least twice a week, and a few other goals I've got. 

5. Be comfortable with the fact that some years, the only goal is -- this year has to be better than the last. That's not the case for me this year, but I've been there in the past and have had friends who are there now. And that's okay. The New Year isn't always about setting tons of lofty goals. It's about the rhythm of life, about taking stock, about not just reacting to life. 

Happy (slightly belated) New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On the other hand...

I could finish the Queen of the Tearling, but I'm having a tough time staying interested and I own it....on the other hand...I could read my library copy of Queen of Shadows, the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series. No contest: Queen of Shadows.

I could take a nap because someone has decided to go back to waking up a couple of times a night instead of spoiling mama with only waking up once a night and right now both children are napping at THE SAME TIME...on the other hand...I could write a blog post which I've been putting on my to-do list at least three times a week for a month. And maybe sneak in a 15 minute power nap after?

I could tell everyone how I've started listening to The Night Circus and I'm already a little in love with it (yes, I know everyone and their dog has read this book already. I'm never going to be up on new books again. Just a heads-up)....on the other hand...there is no other hand. Having this cued up in Audible may be the best thing that ever happened to my housecleaning/running/knitting.

I could get overwhelmed by the number of things I want to do...and the number of things I NEED to do and the fact that it's just easier to do none of it....on the other hand...I could just take one thing at a time, attempt to mix up the urgent with the important/the want with the need, and try to accept when I  can't do everything. And ask for help when I need it.

Yesterday, I finished week 3, day 3 of Couch to 5k. Yay! Running! I'm feeling motivated so far, and now just need to stay motivated enough to add in a day or two (realistically, a day) of yoga during the week, and a little bit of core work to help the running go better (and to help everything go better, really). I'm inspired by the plank these days, especially after my friend Tess posted a link about plank exercises. No other hand here....just an attempt to get my booty in gear. Next up...goals for 2016.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Thursday List

1. Farmyard Beat Farmyard Beat, by Lindsey Craig and Marc Brown is seriously adorable and fun. Even when you are asked to read it " 'gain!" about 30 times in a row. 

2. The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)I started Queen of the Tearling last week, continuing my streak of reading books that were popular and recommended to me so long ago I can't remember who recommended it. Haven't gotten very far yet, but so far, so good. And isn't that an awesome cover? The downside to reading the ebook.

3. For most of the years we lived in North Carolina, we had a tradition of sharing a New Year's Day breakfast with our friends (the ones we'd partied with the night before, of course) where we'd all sit around and talk about the previous year and our goals and dreams for the coming year. So I'm in the habit of participating in the traditional end-of-the-year reflection and contemplation, and I've been thinking about it off and on the past week or two. And I'm sure I'll talk about it more some other time, but meanwhile....

4. Now that it's December, I'm ready to embrace the Christmas season! Our calendar is about maxed out on planned activities -- Christmas party, family tree-decorating-movie-watching, cookie exchange, lunch with Santa, and a plan to drive around and look at Christmas lights. Now I've just got to fit Christmas shopping in there somewhere, and we live in Houston so...the lawn really needs to be mowed (thankfully that's Jeremy's job still). And hopefully we'll have time for a little spontaneous fun and/or relaxing on the couch to a Christmas movie or two.

5. And speaking of Christmas movies! I love hearing about everyone's favorite Christmas movies. From Elf to Die Hard, White Christmas (this girl's favorite) or It's a Wonderful Life and all the many versions of A Christmas Carol or Santa Claus or your very favorite made for t.v. holiday cheesefest.