The Secret to A Relaxing Vacation

photo galveston beach II I’m not sure if it was the little bit of stress planning the trip (as most last-minute plans go) or my random decision to read Madeleine L’Engle’s book, Walking on Water on the first leg of our drive down the road that solidified my soul’s desire. I must say, it feels like it started way before any of that though, really. Like it’s been floating around out there, dropping me clues bit by bit the past year or so. There’s so much pressure I put on myself to try to be like somebody else and to appear like my family and I have it all together. As our plans to hit the beach began to look like it was actually going to happen, I internally passed go and resolved to make happiness and contentment my goal this trip. I was not going to try to fire up an engine to produce some perfect vacation experience by what I was used to with my family or what I’d seen others do on blogs or Facebook etc. I was determined not to busy my butt trying to bring to life a certain illusion of what should happen or what everybody else does. My memory served quite well in reminding me that running around trying to make my husband please me as I try to chase a certain notion is not true happiness – for me or my husband. I’ve done that too often and it doesn’t quite work out like expected. I wanted our trip to be f.u.n. and not stressful. For a while now I’ve been reading Emily P. Freeman’s blog and she really drives home the point of smallness; our human smallness and that our souls really were not created for big. Just today on a podcast I heard the guest quote something she said. She said Emily hated the quote the sky’s the limit because that would mean you are an airplane and I am not an airplane. Yes, we are not airplanes. We can not fly. We can only walk; maybe run if we must. I can’t do everything. I can only do little with what I have. Once I recognize my smallness then I can pour as much energy and life into it as I desire or is reasonable. So in prepping for this beach trip I was awakening to the reality that I am not an airplane.   beach boy water boy I water boy II So I was thinking about that factor and another one I’m learning to grapple with whenever we go away on trips with a child. Do you know what I’m alluding to? The actual  r e l a x i n g  factor. I basically wasn’t planning on taking any books or journals along because I doubted I’d have time for them. Even after Gavin would be sleeping at night I figured I want to sleep then too. I struggle with this because growing up the beach was always fun and relaxing. This was me, lounging on the sand with my bright colorful towel, walk-man jamming to Point of Grace (hello 90’s), Brio magazine in hand and coconut sun-tanning oil close by next to the chips and water bottle. I lived that story for many, many years afterwards – until I met my Gavin. Now I’m a parent. And if you are a parent you know what I’m talking about. Life on the beach or any vacation and even holidays for that matter, are not all fun and relaxing. As the parent you are responsible to make stuff happen. Make the food. Feed them. Keep peace (and I only have one child, mind you). Get in naps. Go potty. Clean up. Always feeling the tinge of responsibility. Afterwards when I unpacked my things, I suffered this sad feeling when I picked up my journal to put it away knowing it was not even cracked open once. I made eye contact with my book stash and my heart shed a tear that not even one page turned in the sun. It’s the whole package experience that made my heart get teary. Oh, sure, I can read at home on the couch or outside on the patio with the birds and squirrels, and trees and grass but it’s not the same. Being on the beach, in total carelessness, feeling the salty breeze, hearing others near by and fighting the bright sun as you squint to read bright white pages – is a whole entire higher level of joy no back yard could ever serve. beach boys-2 beach babes-3 beach love   After the first huge bite of my Mexican burger with avocado, I knew we made the right choice. The restaurant was a grand-slam smash out of the ball park. We had rearranged our schedule again that day at the beach and decided to eat our early supper on the island and then hit some mini golf and what-not afterwards. My 24 wk pregnant body was ready to park it in a chair and fuel up after granola bars and grapes on the beach. I asked to eat out on the patio like we did last summer with friends. There you can watch the traffic and waves and people and how can I forget, the black birds that enticed an eager toddler to make their acquaintance. Neither toddler enthusiasm or those creepy owls sitting around all over the place were not at all scaring the fearless, chip stealing, flock. Feeling the shade from out tiki umbrella and the fresh smell of salt water, a sea breeze washed over me and I discovered, in the middle of our vacation, my little heart was filled with gratitude. beach foodies I was happy. Completely and flat-out happy. My family was all together, not to unusual, but we were away from Jason’s work and away from our naughty chew-happy dog. We were away from my dreaded dusting and my stubborn tomatoes that won’t die. We were sailing along and my heart wasn’t wrung from unmet expectations. We were just being. And I was happy. I didn’t care that we looked beach frumpy with sand pelted to our legs and bellies, that we smelled like sweat and sun block and our hair looked far from gorgeous; mine smashed under a hat. We were not living the IG dream or doing anything remarkable. Just a party of three on the patio stuffing their faces with burritos, beans and a big fat burger. It was bliss. Afterwards it bothered me that I couldn’t get any fabulous shots of such a fabulous memory. Thinking back now, it wasn’t the moment that was awesome, it was my realization that was awesome. I was beginning to see how content I truly was with my mediocre, plain vanilla, bordering quiet life. (This picture is as good as it gets) IMG_5385 gavin golfs I See, after uprooting and moving to Texas from a large family that was loud and full of energy and living in a house with my parents and teens, preteens and young adults who had their own cars and jobs and lives, I was quite accustomed to business and rolling with the rip-tide. Moving out and far away to people I barely knew, my life hushed suddenly and felt, well, rather boring and lifeless. It was quite a switch. I find I’m still trying to be OK with a quiet and calm life and tell myself it’s not wrong. It is just. different. It takes some getting used. Almost 6 years later I find I’m still trying to figure out how to it looks and feels inside me to be calm. So much of my life with 6 brothers was far from calm. I have to be careful I’m not trying to create chaos just to add a missing component from my old life. So when I flipped open my Madeleine L’Engle book and read what I would only read on the entire duration of the trip God was speaking to me and knew this time my soul, not my brain, was ready to hear it.

“When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening…”

God used those words to hush my spirit and prepare me as he led us down the road, away from home, towards our calm beach get-a-way. He hushed the pressure of producing a Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and bloggers dream-post vacation. He ushered me into a new adventure of desiring simple being; simply being with family. My best advise for happiness and contentment on a family vacation is to lean into what your family is saying and feeling. Listen to what they are not saying with words and honor them. Vacations are not just about you and your hopes but theirs as well. And, lean into the little moments, your smallness and be grateful every tiny step of the imperfect way. Let not what you do be the most important but simply being present. As Emily says, our souls weren’t created for fame. We aren’t expected to do big Pinteresty things, 51 awesome pictures for FB or IG or even big famous blog posts. That doesn’t bring lasting joy or contentment. Once we truly accept our lives for what they are (mine is small and quiet – yours may be crazy-wild and loud) and listen to what they are trying to tell us, then we can stop trying to shove them into a box they were never meant to fit. me and him

Personal Fashion Observations

 

I feel like I’m still discovering what I like when it comes to clothe. I like clothes and they matter to me, yet it can be easy for me to buy quick clothes that is cheap and impulsive at thrift stores (sometimes, not always anymore depending which store). After wearing it only a few times, it’s like why did I buy this?! Either it gets stretched funny, or stained easily or has a hole that I didn’t notice at the time of purchase. Sometimes I do make out like a bandit and find some great name brand bargains in perfect condition.

My friend Lucy and I have discussed numerous times the worth of buying second-hand versus brand new. It seems to us like it’s probably worth it more in the long run to buy brand new then $7 here and $8 there that only get sent back to Goodwill two months later for reasons mentioned already or the it just wasn’t ‘me’ after effect. If you buy it brand new it will last. The only limitation with that is a slower rotation of clothes.

After doing the Dressing Your Truth/Nature course I feel as though I learned what looks good on me. Like I feel like I have a better grip on how to shop for myself by choosing items that fit my nature and therefore am eager to hit some thrift stores soon.

 

Since taking that on-line course, I’m obsessed with this new idea. The past month has been a tornado of on-line videos and scrutinizing my face in the bathroom mirror, staring and analyzing faces in public and even Facebook friends profile pictures, to be creepy honest… To say I am obsessed with understanding the DYT course — might be underrated.

Literally, I have been thinking about this so much lately especially when I get dressed in the morning and go shopping.

Allow me to explain the obsession part a little.

Red is not supposed to be my color (according to Dressing your Truth, DYT) but I have a red shirt that I still wear. After I pull it over my head in the morning and I walk past the mirror, I look at myself and wonder “is this me?” And whether it is or not or if I can honestly answer the question, I plow past the new >loud< voice jabbing at me declaring it is too bold, so not me, and tell myself that, “Missy, you are wearing red today! The end.”

I still wear red.

It is interesting to note though how certain clothes, styles, textures and colors makes you feel when they are on you (something learned from the course). If you look at your closet and pull out your fav 3 pieces and your worst 3 pieces; note what it is that makes them your favorite or why you hardly ever wear the least fav.

1. Is it the colors/print?
2. Length?
3. Neck line type?
4. Texture of fabric?
5. Style?

After studying and analyzing my bed with clothes in two piles, I could see what I liked versus disliked. It’s interesting and fun to do! What you discover is tips to keep in mind when shopping in the future.

I probably won’t buy much red-red in the future. Err… actually, I can’t even remember the last time I actually bought red. The red shirt I just mentioned was a freebie. So, you know you’d wear it too! ;)
I used to think is was because I labeled myself as a ‘winter’ and red-red is like a winter color. (Think Christmas) But, red-red is a heavy color to wear. It’s more bold than a coral-red or a pink-red. And my personality is not very heavy or bold. I might be described more as random and spontaneous – lighter colors.

One day I put on a white and light-blue striped shirt and some khakis and felt so fresh and energized that day. Like, really! So, I know clothes really plays into how I feel. And, even how I feel about myself. That combination that day made me feel happy and alive and I liked that.

To offer a rebuttal, I cannot honestly report how I do actually feel when I put the red-red shirt on because by now I’m so trained to just wear the darn shirt whether it’s my color or not that I really have no clue how it affects my mood. To me that shirt is a mind-over-matter issue.

So, I’m not a firm convert of DYT in the extent that I can ONLY wear certain colors that are my nature. Like I said about my red shirt. I still wear it. And I think that it’s practical. You have to be practical.
I have the shirt.
I like the shirt.
Hence, I wear the shirt.

Will I buy red tomorrow? Probably not.

Am I getting rid of all the clothes that aren’t my nature? No. I don’t have the money to do that. But, slowly, over time it will most likely disappear.

 

I think I’ll never forget what I learned that makes my personal clothes shopping a whole lot easier. Since I’m a self prescribed Type 1 (Air), I depicted what colors and cuts look great on me.  I can go to target and not stress over what to buy because just by glancing I can see if the colors displayed are ‘me’ or not. I like that I can be OK with liking different colors and styles but not feel pressured to buy them for myself. Which leads me to my next thought.

Just because I like a certain style does not mean I have to buy it. Example: Aztec style. I’ve admired this trend ever since it came out but haven’t been brave enough or I can’t settle on which print I like best or have I found something in my willing price range to add this style to my wardrobe. I really like it though. It might look fabulous on you. Which gives me consolation to saving my pennies over the matter; because what might look good on you, might not look good on me. Capeesh? And so, I can appreciate certain styles and be OK with the fact that I don’t have to buy everything I like. I can admire them on the hanger at the store or on you. Just because I like it or its ‘in’ right now doesn’t mean it has to be ‘in’ my closet!

You might already have noticed this in your own shopping and dressing room experiences. A style or cut you like just doesn’t fit you all that well. It’s ok to admit it’s not ‘you’ and continue to admire it on others.

I can get hung up on what’s popular and in style and feel like I have to wear that too. Like, with the Aztec thing, I keep thinking in the back of my mind I’ll someday find one I like. But I need to stop that thinking. It’s not me. I’m sure none of you are that way.

 

Finding what looks good on you is a good feeling. You’ll feel good about yourself. After a couple of compliments you’ll know you’ve found something suited for you and are on the right track. I don’t always know where to shop for clothes – new or second-hand. The battle is real, folks. But, finding out what looks good on me doesn’t mean I have to over-haul my closet post-haste. It’s ok to give time and patience to clothes that are you. Enjoy the shopping process and most importantly really like what you buy!

 

If you have any questions about DYT? Let me know in the comments.
Or if you’d like to share your experience with the DYT on-line course I’ve love to hear your story!
Also, how do you feel about buying second-hand versus brand new? I’d love your comments!

Have a great, fashionable weekend being YOU!
{Half-way baby bump!}

Clothes

I have this friend who happens to be great at picking out gorgeous clothes for people. I discovered this once while shopping with her when she whipped out a bright green simple tunic and said, “I’d bet you look great in this!”

Her spontaneous, out of the blue, shear belief in her words that I’d look great sucked me in and I wanted to hear more of what she thought I’d look great in. Because honestly, her fashion suggestion, no matter how confidently spoken, still took be for a loop for two reasons.
1. I had never considered a solid longish shirt before, and
2. I had never thought to buy something so plain and simple.
My fashion 6th sense was on the look out for what I thought was ‘cool’ – textured fabrics, lace, rosettes, strips, chevron, pockets etc. You get the picture.

This green tunic piece looked, well, boring. Because I trust my friend’s opinion, I wanted to hear more from her about what she thought was my style. That off-handed comment never left me. I was afraid to believe her fashion advise but at the same time I had a feeling she really knew. I sensed she really know what looks great on people. Like it was her gift. (She already was one of those friends that speaks life to me and is so good at reading and understanding people. I love being around her.)

Therefore, naturally her words started a vortex of over thinking on my part about what clothe I do pick out for myself and the idea that I don’t even know what I really do look good in?  When I buy clothes, I just buy what I think looks nice or what I’m comfortable wearing or sometimes what others are wearing. I don’t think much about what looks good on me based on my personality or how others perceive me. Do you?

Not long ago I was shopping for a new dress for my brothers wedding. I ended up coming home with a great outfit for Gavin that I thought he looked so stinkin’ hot in and a dress for me I wasn’t sold on yet. Why is it that Gavin is so much easier to shop for? That day I owned the fact that I disliked shopping for myself.

If you’re like me, you want to look nice and style does matters. I prefer approachable clothes. Happy clothes. Clothes that I feel comfortable in, not bold, so in, statement combinations that intimidate and I can’t relax or be myself in. On the other hand, I can get stuck in what I feel is safe and just buy the same old navy blues, grays and pinks and solids that are easy and simple.

The dress I bought for the wedding was just that. A simple navy blue dress. I ended up keeping it after I found a bright blueish sweater that looks great as a color block combo.

(can you find me in this grainy pic from Jevin’s wedding?- he hee)

Not long ago this fashion friend of mine sent me a link to a beauty profiling course which I soaked up right away. I’m a softie for personality quizzes – though this is not a quiz. You can check it out here if you’re interested in dressing your nature, or obsessed with personality profiling like me! It’s not as extensive as Myers Briggs in which she only has 4 types and they’re based on the four types of nature: air (type 1), water (type 2), fire (type 3), earth (type 4). Yup, you’re individual human nature is naturally one of those four!

After you figure out your type, you’ll discover (if you buy the course) what clothes look great on you according to your ‘nature.’ Your nature gets depicted down to personality, face shape, hair, and skin texture and so on. Do you ever imagine what your whole presence and energy people feel from you is like with the clothes you have on? Based on you and your nature, some people just don’t look good in certain designs or shirts or certain colors.JJ_CSMUCKER-3427

Because of that reasoning, it makes sense to me that I don’t look ‘great’ in this shirt that I wore for our last family picture. It doesn’t look bad but it doesn’t look ‘wow’ either. It’s too muted or soft for me with my big round eyes, big forehead, and big smile. Peach is soft. I’m loud. Random. Crazy. Brighter.

This shirt is not letting the real me come out!

 

 

Needless to say, stingy me didn’t buy the course but I’m assuming by her videos what would look great on me and peach is not one of my colors. Neither is black. Who doesn’t have several black staple pieces in their closet, right? ‘Air’ or type 1’s look cuter in navy blue or chocolate-brown for their dark color. Bright, animated, light, fun clothes polka dots or printed owl designs or movement moving upwards is more type 1. They are  random, disconnected, flamboyant, full of ideas kind of people (<<<yes! to the ideas. It overwhelms my husband sometimes) The founder describes the as ‘breath of fresh air’ people and sometimes the life of the party. (though I’m certainly not the life of the party. crowds quiet me…)

Going on the assumptions I gathered from the free on-line videos, shopping at target for maternity clothes as super easy. I knew what to look for. I didn’t have to stress much about “Would this look good on me?” or “Is this only a winter print?” I didn’t even struggle over which t-shirt to get of the 6 varieties so perfectly laid out on display! Baaahhaaaaaa!

In the end I bought nothing. Partly because nothing fit my new found ‘nature’ and partly because 20% off still wasn’t that much off (not thanks to Cartwheel) and partly because I hate maternity shopping AND because I have my second Stitch Fix box coming in a week which I am eagerly and nervously awaiting. (my first box I sent everything back)

Do I still wear black? Yes. I’m not going to get rid of all my wardrobe that isn’t my color. I need clothes to wear and don’t have the money to do a closet makeover! I know you don’t either! Over time some of those things will probably be the first to go out the door. I have thought about it now since reading and watching all her videos explaining her nature profiling system that I haven’t worn my black skirt in a super long time. Even though it’s one of those maxi, fold-over-tops from Old Navy and super comfy, I don’t gravitate towards black. I naturally pick brighter or happier colors. And brighter, lighter colors are my nature.

I found this picture on Pinterest and saved it to my phone. You can sorta see the difference in the 4 types. But none of this will make any sense unless you watch the videos.

 

 

 

 


WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Do you hate shopping for clothes for yourself? Would you rather go with someone and have their input before buying something?
Or, do you know what you like and found your niche when it comes to clothe?
Maybe you learned what looks good on you by what other people compliment about your clothes?

Challenge: Go into your closets and dressers and pull out your favorite 3 pieces you love to wear. Then dig to the bottom of the drawer for the 3 things you hardly ever wear. What is it that all your 3 favs have in common?

Notice and learn what you like. They probably look great on you and are your colors. Compare they 3 favs with your 3 pieces you hardly ever wear. This might help you buy what looks good on you and what you naturally like versus what’s in style.

 


 

DISCLAIMER: Anyway, I discovered this a couple of months ago so all this info is still relatively new for me. I hope you don’t get the impression that I’m some sort of authority or expert on this stuff. I didn’t buy her online membership so I’m probably missing a lot on how to dress your nature. But if this is at all something you’re interested in, watch her videos and see for yourself what she has to say.

I think she makes a good point about your clothes effecting your mood and self-worth. It really does.  That said, I believe your ultimate self-worth is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. In Christ alone is where our real security lies and it’s not in the clothes we wear. Dressing your Nature every day will not make you happy(ier) or suddenly a transformed person who is totally in love with themselves and how they look.

Only Jesus can set you free and give you rest and it’s through Him that real LIFE is found. For woman we long to look pretty and attractive. God created us that way and we all are uniquely beautiful. The thing I found that I liked about this course was that it gave me permission to shop more intentionally and (hopefully) make better clothing choices in the future.

When Spontaneous Sue Meets Thoughtful Tom (Are you a Sue, too?)

Hello dear friends!

I know, there’s been some silence over here. We’ve been on the busy end of tail of the life beast and somehow that has devoured my time for words. It’s not that I haven’t had things to write about, it’s just that I wasn’t taking the time to jot them down and complete them.

So often that’s how the writing process works for me. I have a thought or a bright nugget of info about some thing, after I write it down I come back to it a day later and for the next few days add to it, pick it apart like a mad surgeon and devotedly make it better and then try to stitch it up.

Sometimes, and more in the past, I would write something and post it that day. There is great value in sleeping over something. I found that out after I learned that little discipline…. whatever it’s called. Self-restraint, maybe?

By nature I’m rather spontaneous. I feel the urge and thus proceed to do it. That’s how I clean my bathroom. I don’t clean it every Friday or Saturday like regularly scheduled cleaning patterns like my in-laws. I clean it when see it needs it. Or when I get around to it. Or when I wake and some strong urge is compelling me to scrub that brown ring around the tub.

Or like when I suddenly decided to make English Muffins once. No planning. Just looked at ingredients list. I had them. Check. I made them. It was very random.

By nature my husband takes his time to think things through. Like with English muffin making he might think, “What are we eating in the next meal or two that these would go good with?” Like he’d make them if he know we would be needing them soon. Not because he was flipping through a cookbook and they caught his eye.

He represents the thoughtful and considerate side of our marriage. What he does is deliberate and carefully thought-out.  He keeps his options open til the very last min possible in case something better pops up.

This is something I had to get used to. And learn to appreciate and love.

At first it felt crushing and like the energy and life and all the fun in the world was being sucked out of me and that I was on the precipice of dying at home on our blah-brown couch and would never have fun or smile at life and nature and feel real joy again but wind up being transmuted into a characterless housewife mocked as a Sober Sally who went around with her head tilted forward and her shoulders slouched nearly touching her knees oozing lifelessness. Wallowing in a spiritless and discontent daze forever.

How could he not want to grab a canoe right now and go float down the Brazos with me this afternoon?! In the moment I was convinced I would wilt and die on the spot.

But I didn’t.

I complied to waiting and letting my hot ideas pass and eventually I realized I was still alive and well in the end. I learned that spontaneous people like me get excited in the moment and when the moment passes, we’re still breathing. Our pride might be a little nipped is all.

After our excitement dissolves, we may or may not come to see how silly and/or bad timing that idea actually was and move on, sometimes peacefully other times sulkily, maybe storing that hot idea with determination for another day – like that canoe trip we still haven’t done.

Yes, eventually we move on – to the next idea.

One of the things I liked about the discipline of crock-potting (storing) ideas is that I felt wiser. I felt like when I thought things through a bit more I ended up seeing more angles and new thoughts and other ideas that I hadn’t seen before hence just diving right in. I saw how it takes more than a whim to produce something good.

After I let my writing sit and come back to it later, I have other ideas and new thoughts pop out at me. Usually (not always) I like my words even better. I can look at the piece of writing with fresh perspective and see errors and unclear thoughts. I can see where the piece of writing is headed. Sometimes it changes direction and the point may shift to another point I didn’t even see coming.

Like everything you just read wasn’t even in my thoughts to write. I just sat down. Started typing. And that’s what came out of my fingers.

I really wanted to write about personality profiling and quizzes and the such like and what I’ve been experiencing and discovering lately in figuring out my ‘type’. But, that will have to be next time. Til then – have a great weekend, y’all!

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I think it’s pretty evident here that my husband is a very wise man. I have learned so much by watching him and doing life with him. I think he’s convinced I would learn even more if I was more like him too.

{Doesn’t he look wise? And that smile that goes straight across, like he’s not even smiling but he really is, must mean that he’s a Type 4 after all. I had him pegged for a Type 2. Perhaps type 4 is his secondary type like me… Do you know what type you are?}

 

As We Wait

The two younger brothers saw the ‘free ice cream’ sign and helped themselves. It was very runny and thin which made them laugh. I helped my travel weary self to a booth near by, propped my feet up and laid back.

Soon my husband and the third and eldest brother traveling with us home from Houston came over and they filled their cones with runny soft ice cream as well. Maybe they keep it runny so people don’t take as much I wondered?

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It didnt’ take along til we got half of our order and then more waiting for the rest. The eldest and most reasonable at the time commented that it’s strange we’re waiting this long for basically the same type of sandwich, just bigger. My husband was the driver and that can have an effect on you when you’ve been on the road for 5 hours in one day. He had paid for the food and didn’t think to check his receipt. He mentioned later to feeling ‘out of it.’ Houston is 3 hours down and 3 hours back sometimes longer if you get caught in traffic.

But we’re not complaining. We were glad to take the boys down to see their dad at MD Anderson. We were glad to get to see their dad, Jason’s brother, again too and Jason was able to donate platelets for him which he received the following day. Jason ended up giving me the free t-shirt this time because he already had the same design that was only available in his size. I wished they would have had a 2T size for Gavin. Wouldn’t he look cute in a ‘Give Blood, Save Lives’ tee?

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Just like Tim with Leukemia in the hospital waiting to hear the word remission, we waited for our fast food. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Wait. Wait and wonder. Wonder if you are forgotten. Wonder what’s going to happen next. Will we get what we want? Wonder with hope for things to come, like our food or for healing. We wonder how long the waiting period is going to last because golly, haven’t we waited long enough?

I don’t know if we wondered if an angle would show up or not but one eventually did. An older lady, manager-ish type waltzed over and inquired on what we were still waiting on. Back at the ordering counter they quickly got the confusion cleared and in maybe a good 5 min we were back on the road with the yummy smell of BBQ crammed in the jeep with the rest of us 5 people devouring sandwiches.

Lucky for us we didn’t wait a month for our food to come. Unlucky for Jason’s brother with cancer he’s been waiting months and months for his healing portion; perhaps a miracle. Or better yet, an angle to waltz into his room and proclaim they’ve miraculously found no cancer in his body!

Life is full of waiting rooms. Sometimes without even being aware we leap from one waiting room to the next. We get one answer to prayer by being escorted into the next waiting room. Jason’s brother prays for his fever to go down, which eventually happens and then he waits for blood and platelets, after that he’ll wait a couple more days for test results and Dr updates and then wait another day or two to start Chemotherapy. And then wait 30 days until something else. I’m not sure what but probably more waiting to see if the chemo worked.

Waiting takes long. It takes days. Days that turn into weeks and somehow a month.

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My friend is very large and pregnant and waiting for her baby to come. She’s waited 9 months. If she’s like me, next she’ll be waiting for the baby to get to that first year. Baby’s are cute but baby’s take a lot of sleep and energy from you. And you wait for them to grow up. Smile, roll over, sit up, get teeth, crawl and then walk and talk.

We wait.

Maybe life is one gigantic waiting room. It seems we are always waiting for something and looking for the future and what’s to come. Right now I’m looking forward to going to Pennsylvania to see my brother get married and my sister-in-laws soon to be adopted two kids for the first time. I’m waiting the final 3 weeks out to finally fly. They are waiting these final 3 weeks out to get hitched and to sign adoption papers. 11052503_785709351512824_7340311736584749786_n

When we get back I’ll be looking forward to the next thing and then the next. And we spend our days waiting on time. Eventually our lives will come to an end and the waiting will stop. We will have arrived. For the believer, that’s heaven. I can’t imagine a place with no more longing of things to come. A place with no expecting for tomorrows. Because everything we will have longed for and hoped for, all those desires will be meet.

One day in heaven we won’t long for healing. I’m no theologian but I think we won’t long for our next meal either. And we will have nowhere else to look forward to going because we have finally arrived. We won’t need anything or want anything. We will be fulfilled to the fullest.

And so with great hope to come, I’d like to learn to live in my waiting room moments and enjoy life. I can’t speak for people with cancer because I have no idea how difficult it would be to wait in a hospital bed and be making the most of it. See, usually I try to wish the difficult times away. Selfishly push through them and get to the next day at least. Especially when I was pregnant at the end. I was just ready to have that baby which I’m sure my friend is the same way today.

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But, what if I sat and enjoyed my son and husband instead of isolating myself in my waiting misery? What if I looked around and found the joy hidden in difficult people, small hospital rooms or runny soft ice cream, a big swollen belly, even a pile of dirty dishes that never seems to go away?

I think it takes people who are incredibly brave in hard seasons to risk their life sucks feelings and learn to live in the moments of waiting by choosing joy and choosing to be fully alive in-spite of it all.



I want to be brave and I have a feeling you might too.

My Favorite Suit Yet

 

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I found this picture under my dresser the other day and just stared at it. I remembered very well that house, that room, that time of life. Me holding my younger brother. I loved helping take care of my little brothers. I played house with them (as you can see the one boy is dressed as a girl probably with a pony tail that you can’t see), sang them to sleep, took baths with them and slept in the same rom with them. That little girl in the picture was so carefree with her knee-high socks falling down, so loving and eager to please. That me was playful, more apt to not overly worry or be anxious but agreeable to the way things were.. There was also a deep question in her eyes but we don’t need to go there right now.

Sometimes I wish I could raise Gavin the way I was a big sister to my little brothers.

 

My one friend, a mother of 4 girls, is like that – the not worrying part. She never seems to stress. I love watching her parent. She laughs with them. She has a great relationships with all 4 girls; very caring of their needs but not over emphasizing small things. She takes what she assesses is enough for that moment and if something unexpected comes up, she might just sigh and say not right now dear or something soft and rational like that to which the girls might be grumpy about but still listen. She’s happy. She is in control. Not like a control freak – she’s just chill but you know she’s the parent.

I look at my child and feel this overwhelming sense of responsibility. Like don’t let him eat another cookie. Give him a banana instead. Make sure he get’s enough water in one day and learns to eat carrots. He must listen when I say come, like yesterday already! If I forget to brush his teeth one more night they’ll all fall out by the time he’s 2 and a half! I have got to take better care of his sensitive skin. And thus the list of musts and do – do – dos runs laps in my mind. It’s a real 5k. The kind that can leave you panting and so ready for nap time.

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At some point though I have loosened up with my parenting. It’s called life I think and out of nowhere it all falls into place like dominos all set up and suddenly without warming one falls and then the next and the next and the next. And it keeps going and you can’t go back but keep going forward to the next day and the next. We sorta know what to expect as we move day by day with each other and we learn how to deal with melt downs and adamant “No’s” We learn to interpret the babble and the pointing. Yes, eventually you just do. And it’s another day. Another domino falls.

But, I have to say that the one thing I like about my younger self taking care of little brothers is that in the end, it wasn’t all my responsibility. In the end mom would come and have the final say. In the end it was mom who got the child to eat his peas, to put on his underwear, stopped the fussing and crying and who stayed up late with a sick toddler while I slept and probably didn’t even know what was going on in the next room, tucked sound asleep in my bed happy as a kitten.

Now, it’s all on me. I’m the mom. And, that leaves me little peace and sometimes very little energy. Because, what if I can’t. You know? What if I just can’t?

But then sometimes you can.

It all starts when you couldn’t seem to find any other way out or maybe because mom’s not available to bail you out. Each night you or your husband find yourself in your child’s room standing there until he falls asleep at night. And this goes on night after night and he doesn’t seem to out grow out of it like he did other things. That is until a night out with some friends who struggle with the same thing and you talk and talk about what nights are like for both of you, leaving you feeling reluctant, and then on the drive home you and your husband hash this out the whole way and that very evening a new plan is implemented and it actually works. You are so giddy with excitement and freedom from the cage of the baby’s room you text your friend and rejoice to high heaven that the child is asleep without your presence hovering over his crib for 38 minutes. At some point you are awakened to change and the awareness that you CAN. That’s what other mothers do for each other – help us to see that we can.

The occasional victory keeps you going for a while but then something new starts up. Another struggle comes into focus that you can’t seem to shake. And on and on the parenting cycle of worry over the next thing continues. I know somewhere in there I need to trust God with my worries. That’s what a good Christian would do, right? I need to hand over my list of what I need to work on with my son. Hand it over and rest. Maybe first tear the list to shreds, burn it and offer the ashes to God as a burnt offering. He’d be mightily pleased of the letting go of lists on my part and then invite me to relax and live in his sweet world of rest that slowly moves on trust. The door to that sanctuary was probably open all along but I didn’t see it. I’ve been missing it because my head was down making worrisome lists the whole time and burning out on cookie fuel instead of trust fuel.

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I’ll never be the Jolynn of the past. I can’t go back. Those dominos already fell. I am the mother now. Let me own this suit and wear it on the good days and the bad days. Maybe someday it will feel more natural or like me when I look in the mirror. Because honestly some days I could almost pinch myself that I have this adorable little tyke who runs to give me hugs or comes and sits beside me on the couch just to lay his head on my shoulder and be next to me. Or who crawls up on my lap when I’m eating a snack and asks for “some?”. Who looks at me sheepishly as he takes another sip of soda and giggles that irresistible laugh and I burst into hysterics because how can I not even though he’s drinking Dr Pepper and his teeth are gonna rot.

He has the biggest brown eyes that twinkle when he laughs and his chubby little arms wrap perfectly around my neck and when he lays his head on my shoulder I could squeeze him forever and ever. He has ambition and energy like the start of a crisp spring day. No doubt or fear of anything; the world is his like a kite and string. He’s smart and intelligent when he wants to be and loves to sing with any stick, dinosaur’s tail or spoon as his microphone. And the way he twaddles and bounces as he runs when I chase him makes me happier than an eagle soaring high in a clear blue sky.

No, I don’t want to go back. That little girl couldn’t possibly feel the joy I feel inside. I like it right here where I am. I’m getting quite comfy in my mama suit. And I like it. I like it a lot. 

 

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What Leaning Feels Like and a Circus

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I am loving my mornings this week. My almost 2-year-old wakes up happily talking to himself for at least 10 minutes. Listening to my tall little (recently asked if my 22 month old is 3) babble on and utter a chuckle or two is purely the truest joy. And today it’s the prefect way to start my day.

 

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Vulnerability is never easy and if your like my toddler, it might come natural to you. Their world is completely wrapped in a full coverage protection plan with their biggest liability being getting that cookie or wearing boots instead of shoes. What a life.

Or, if you’re like me, you’re scared to death of vulnerability and your biggest liability is, well frankly, every thing.

Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly is a super good read. Packed full of research she mentions so many people that she interviewed express instances of vulnerability and what it was like for them which makes this book one that you can easily connect with and lick those fingers to keep turning pages.

From the back of the book:

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection.

So inspired my this Texas native, I want to be able to risk some pride and safety in situations where I know I walk fully armored. Baby steps where my insurance is security in God and knowing that he always keeps me safe. I’ve heard people say,  “This is just who I am. Deal with it.” and it scares me to think that I’ll land out beyond the playing field with them somewhere surrounded by a thick wall of prickly hedges.

We can change.

I hope I keep changing – becoming more Christlike and not some crazy hiding behind a ridiculous stiff, thick, clanking armor suit that’s not even comfortable to wear in the first place.

Imagining risking some wild, fresh vulnerability scares the tar out of me too. It’s so easy to NOT have scary hard conversations. And so this week I’ve been thinking about different responses and leaning into what could be life giving instead of death and stabbing. I’m leaning into the mystery of another way.

Years ago I was at a Bible School doing a week of missions prep just before leaving for the summer to go to Mexico. One of the activities was to stand on the stage in the gym and and fall backwards into the group’s arms below you. I think it was called the Faith Fall. I remember standing up there, my back towards the group. Good thing because I couldn’t see if they were smiling big and confidently or had huge creased brows oozing uncertainty.

I took a deep breath, crossed my arms over my chest and just fell. I had no idea what the landing would feel like. Didn’t know if I’d give a little or give a lot. Had no idea what to expect.

Leaning into vulnerability feels a lot like that. You don’t know anything for certain once you start to let yourself go.

I just came across this anonymous quote.

“Sometimes the thing that we are most afraid of doing is the thing that will set us free.”

Who doesn’t want to be free?

And, so I hope to practice the leaning…

 

In other news, the circus came to town.

 

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I took my kiddo and one of his favorite cousin, the one that we always have to pray for every night when we say our prayers, along to check it out. Because when we heard that a circus was coming to such a small, small, very small town, I was a bit skeptical but also a bit excited and I might have even imagined a three-ring tent and lots and lots of wild animals, clowns, fire and tight rope walkers.

I’ll let this picture tell you everything you need to know.

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And, so after we said ‘hello, mr elephant’ and ran around in the mud behind the tent to pet look at the miniature ponies, hubby and I decided at the supper table that that was enough circus adventure for one day. Lucky us our one-year-old didn’t know he was missing out on anything that night. And we’re $24 richer because of it! :)

 Have a great week!
#bringSPRING