Category Archives: random thoughts

random and staccato (disconnected)

Currently: Christmas Time!

Y’ALL. I started this post in plenty of time to get it ready for posting last Wednesday, but then I FORGOT. SO! Here’s my Currently post for December, a little later than it should be. Oops.

December is here! Advent is here! And I am literally the happiest person. It’s my favorite time of year. Everything is extra beautiful, covered in greenery and frost, anticipation runs through our veins, and gift-giving abounds. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. So, since it’s the first Wednesday of the month, I’m linking up with Anne in Residence and Catherine of A Short Blonde for December’s Currently party.

img_0358

Lighting || both of our Christmas trees, and our front porch columns! If I had my way, I’d probably cover everything in lights because I love them so much. But Hubby thankfully anchors me down a little bit. Here are our trees and front porch!

Spending || a little less than usual on Christmas presents, I think. I’ve just slowed down a little on how much I’m doing. I know my kids will get plenty from their grandparents, too, and Hubby and I aren’t getting anything else for each other because we just splurged on a Vitamix and a couple of pieces of furniture. I don’t want Christmas to feel “small” for anyone, presents-wise, but I doubt that will be a problem!

Choosing || which of our family photos we’re turning into canvases for our own home, and which we’re giving to our parents! (Did I just ruin their surprise?) It’s the biggest decision to choose a favorite photo from our recent session with Urban Bloom Photography when they were ALL.SO.GOOD. Here’s a little preview…

Sending || Christmas cards! I just finished addressing them and put them in the mail yesterday! It’s one of my favorite things to do at Christmas, and I absolutely LOVE getting them in the mail! I ordered a few less than last year because I always have ten or so left over and now I’m afraid I’m going to have to order a few more! YIKES.

Singing || ALL of the Christmas music. I love Christmas music, specifically Christmas hymns and songs about Jesus (because I’m a worship leader, duh) and also just regular songs about snow and Santa and the whole deal. This year, EK is remembering lyrics and learning Christmas songs at school so it’s extra fun to sing with her!

Leave a comment and tell me what you’re up to Currently!

Teach Community

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.  

Recently, I’ve realized that a theme has been cropping up to much of my reading, my podcast-listening, and my conversations. I must be in a certain sort of place in my life where God has started to push me in a specific direction, but I may have been too daft to notice it.

My husband and I made a decision when we started thinking about having kids (I know, this is related, I promise). We decided that we wouldn’t stop our social life just because I was pregnant, or simply because we had added a member to our family. For us, that meant  going out to events or dinner or drinks with friends. But what it really meant for us was continuing to have people over to our house. We’ve always had friends over for dinner several times a week, inviting new friends, bringing together old friends, and hosting our families in our home. It helps that my husband is a great cook (can I get an “amen”?!), but we have always loved the fact that our home is a place where people can gather, and we didn’t want that to stop when we suddenly had another (tiny) person that needed to be planned around.

Which brings me to the point of connecting these two thoughts. We’ve always had the desire to have lots of people and lots of good conversation in our home. And recently I’ve listened to two podcasts (unrelated, and not necessarily on this topic) that touched on gathering people into your home, inviting them to be a part of your life and it’s a running theme in two of the books I’ve been reading. Gathering and community-building has also been a theme in the church plant that I’m a part of, and a new job I just took at a local non-profit.

See? I told you I was probably daft to not get it until now.

I’m noticing that even more than usual, I am called to build community. Relationships. Connections. Yes, it looks different in each area of my life, but the goal is the same. Make meaningful connections. Help build relationships. Create a space for community to happen. On top of those things, I have a desire for people to feel welcome and wanted. I want them to feel like they are a part of something bigger.

Because at the end of the day, we are. We are a part of something bigger. We are an integral part, each of us, of the tapestry that God is weaving throughout humanity. We are lost souls, left to wander, if we don’t know about His loving pursuit of us. He has a great destiny for our lives, and all we have to do is come into His family and follow Jesus.

Jesus was the ultimate community builder. He gathered people from far and wide and welcomed them. Even people who had no business being near him, right? People who were usually shunned were welcomed at his table, into his life and his ministry. And as a mother, what more important thing could I let my children witness as they grow up? I want them to know intrinsically how important community is, to see it firsthand. My hope is that they will see the theme of community woven throughout their lives as well, and will, in turn, welcome people to their homes and pour into their own communities. It’s a part of what we’re called to do.

‘Tis the Season – of Indulging Your Taste Buds!

During the month of November, I’m participating in NaBloPoMo, where I try to write and publish each day.

I don’t know what it is about this time of year that makes me abandon any sort of diet or food regulations I might normally have going for me. Perhaps it begins with Halloween and the amount of candy that enters the house. Or it might have to do with being inside more often… which typically leads me to baking a lot. Or maybe it’s just that the holidays are full of sugary treats and fatty, sharable sides. Who knows. But what I DO know is that I LOVE food that tastes good.

Now, for me, saying “food that tastes good” covers a multitude of sins. I love fancy meals. I love farm-fresh eggs and meats. I love organic fruits and veggies. I love cuisine from all over the world (here’s looking specifically at you, Italy and Thailand). BUT! I also love a good slamburger (the term coined by my husband for a greasy burger from a no-name burger joint). I love a late-night hotdog from a street cart. Coldstone ice cream creations can cheer me up any day. My kids don’t have to beg to get me to eat at Chick-fil-A. To me, they taste good. And that’s what matters.

But this time of year, I lean in to those home-baked cookies, the cinnamon-sprinkled drinks, and the heavily-buttered breads or potatoes. I want large cuts of fatty meats (hey there, prime rib!) and richly-flavored, creamy soups (butternut squash soup, anyone?). And who can blame me?! It’s getting dark at 5:00pm and I’d like to have some compensation for the stealing of my daylight.

So today, I celebrate the pumpkin muffins with maple-pecan drizzle, the eggnog spiked with bourbon, and ramen from the Bahtmobile (our local Asian food truck). I celebrate shortbread cookies, King’s Hawaiian rolls (why are they so good?!) and 18-pound hunks of prime rib – if you’re having Thanksgiving lunch at our house, anyway. I celebrate good ol’ GBC (if you’re from around here, you should know that’s green bean casserole) and mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and Honeybaked Ham. It’s going to be a good couple of months, y’all, in the world of flavors. Indulge. ‘Tis the season!

20 Reasons to Read to Your Kids Every Single Day

This post originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

Sometimes, I’m trying to do 100 things at once. I’m cleaning, cooking, reading, giving advice, trying to keep myself healthy, saving my children from disaster… you know, just the regular stuff. But every once in a while, one of my kids wanders up to me with a book in his hand, or interrupts me while I’m getting some work done to ask if I’ll read to her. If I possibly can, I say yes. I drop almost anything to read to my kids. Why? Why is it so important to me that I would read to my kids any time they ask?

Because I love reading.

Because they love reading.

Because reading is for every age.

Because reading makes them smarter.

Because reading means you have to slow down.

Because reading to them won’t last forever.

Because reading is a pleasure that can transport them to another world.

Because reading is a way to connect with them.

Because reading opens their eyes to new experiences, ideas, and points of view.

Because reading is a joy that begins early.

Because reading is fun.

Because reading to them means getting a snuggle, too.

Because reading is something I can do with all of my kids at the same time.

Because reading creates time together.

Because reading makes them laugh.

Because reading makes me laugh.

Because reading makes me cry.

Because reading helps them learn about emotions.

Because reading to them turns into reading with them.

Because reading with them turns into them reading to me.

I’ll drop anything to pick up a book and read with my children. That time with them is special, and fleeting. I know from my years of teaching that almost any age of children love to be read to, but I also know that when they get older and busier, that time becomes harder to carve out. So right now, while they’re little, while they bring me books while I’m folding laundry, I’ll read to them. I’ll gladly let the laundry wait to have a snuggle and a book with my kids.

Research has shown that reading to children for at least 20 minutes every day can increase their reading abilities early on, increase their exposure to language and larger vocabularies, improve their attitudes towards reading for school, and increase their likelihood to graduate from high school on time, and go on to receive a higher education degree. Those reasons should be enough for parents to spend the time with their kids reading each day, but when you couple that with extra snuggles, quality time, and getting to hear their cute (or let’s be honest: hilarious!) thoughts on the stories and characters? I’m sold. My kids have the best questions and silliest ideas after we read books together. I would never want to miss out on that. I get to peek inside their minds for a minute when we discuss what the books are about. I get such good opportunities to talk with them about things we would never think of to say. Reading with your kids is a great way to get to know them a little bit better. Don’t miss out on it. It makes a difference for all of you.

I finally know my way around.

During the month of November, I’m participating in NaBloPoMo, where I try to write and publish each day. Often, I’ll be writing to a prompt – like today. 

My husband is great at finding his way around. We can be in a neighborhood he’s never been in, winding through stop signs, turns, and houses that all look the same, and he can find his way out without any problem. He’s got a great sense of direction, and often looks at the car’s compass (in his car, it’s just a lit-up letter on the rearview mirror) to decide whether to go left or right. Me? Not so much.

It took me several years of living in my town to start knowing my way around. When I moved here, for college, there weren’t phones with GPS, and so I had to rely on friends’ directions just to get to the nearest grocery store, the movie theatre, or a restaurant. I was using the highway to get around town almost exclusively for years, not knowing other ways, whether they were shorter or easier, or not.

But somewhere amid moving into the house we live in now, and attending work trainings at different schools in the area (back in my teaching days) I finally got to know some new neighborhoods, lots of good shortcuts, and the best way to use our main thoroughfares. I can cut through my neighborhood on any single street and get to where I’m going – and that is quite an accomplishment for me!

You see, this city felt like home even before I knew how to navigate it. I loved my college campus. I had, and still have, great friends, including many who grew up here, and some who, like me, came here for school and decided to stay. It’s a warm and welcoming town, lots of opportunities to meet new people, join local organizations, or find cool events that are happening all the time. It’s not too big, in case you get overwhelmed in huge cities full of skyscrapers. But it’s not too small, either, for those of us that think that tiny towns have a little too much familiarity. It’s a good size, particularly when you need to run an errand on one side of town, and one on the other… you can do it within a reasonable amount of time.

Finally learning my way around – well – seemed like the final piece of the puzzle toward becoming a “local”. Now that I’ve been here for 13 years, I definitely consider myself an expert navigator, directions-giver, or even shortcut creator. And when I go back to the town I grew up in, a smaller town with less big highways, I feel like the newcomer. I’ve forgotten the shortest distance between two points, or I can’t remember street names that I have aways known. It seems I’ve only got memory space enough for one town’s road map.

Worthwhile Relationships

During the month of November, I’ll be participating in National Blog Post Month, where I’ll publish a post every single day. Sometimes, like today, I’ll use prompts. This one I wrote in about five minutes.

Today’s prompt: What are the most meaningful relationships in your life?

As a woman, I’m very relational. I have a LOT of relationships that I’m in, weaving in and out of closeness, but always talking, calling, texting, getting together with someone. I love feeling close to people, laughing, crying, sharing stories or hard things, just loving on and being with people. (Can you say extrovert?)

If you truly ask me to choose a most meaningful relationship, or the top 5, perhaps… I don’t think I could honestly do it. My no-brainer answer seems to be my husband. He’s the one that I know I’m stuck with (HAPPILY!) for the rest of my life, and come what may, he’ll be my person until we cross over into heaven – for which I am so grateful. He is amazing; he’s good to me, knows me well and loves me anyway. What more can I ask for?

But when thinking of other relationships that I’d put up there with my marriage, it starts to blur. I have three kids. I can’t very well prioritize one of those relationships with my other kids, right? I also have a Savior, who, admittedly, should’ve been the first relationship I mentioned, since that’s what He calls us to: relationship with Him. Reliance on Him. Love for Him. That should be my most meaningful… and it is, truly. It’s through my relationship with Him that I am given the ability to love, and the very love that I freely give to everyone else with whom I’m in relationship.

But after my familial unit relationships, I put great importance on my relationship with my original family unit: my parents and my brother. And grandparents, aunts and uncles with whom I grew up being close with my entire life, until I did “leave and cleave” to another family unit – whose relationships I also greatly value! And don’t even get me started on our close friends, their kids, our pastors, community group, co-workers at church, co-heirs and co-laborers in Christ’s Church! They are all of great importance to me. There are things to share with each other (not least of which is just sharing life together!) that I could just miss out on if I wasn’t willing and able to put myself in relationship with so many wonderful people.

So I suppose my real answer for the prompt is, well, all of them. All of my relationships are meaningful. Even if they don’t seem overly meaningful to me at this exact moment, they could be to the other person. And just that fact makes me value them a little more. Those people close to me, whom I see and talk to and do life with, those are my most meaningful relationships. Those are the relationships, all 30 or 40 of them, that I value the most, that I make the effort to develop, and that I would be horribly sad to see ended.

Growing Pains

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

The past couple of weeks have been a little tough on my family. We’re facing some growing pains of a particular kind. Our schedules have all changed, due to having our two younger children at one (pre)school, and our eldest child at elementary school. Our toddler is potty-training and teething. Our family is an integral part of a church launch, which is taking much of our emotional and spiritual efforts, if not those in the physical sense. Our jobs are more demanding, somehow, in addition to these other things, and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit we’re suffering a little for it all.

Thankfully, these growing pains are all for good reason. They’re happening because we’re involved in sowing seeds, we are in the business of nurturing life, and we are experiencing a fine harvest. And yes, those things can all be happening at the same time.

Life is full of seasons, but within a family, there can be sowing and reaping simultaneously. We are sowing seeds of learning and a love for education in our daughter as she begins kindergarten. My husband and I are sowing as well into our professional lives, putting in extra hours, collaborating with our colleagues, and making more plans. We are nurturing our toddler as his body grows and changes. We are experiencing a beautiful harvest with our church family as we expand our congregation and launch a new campus, welcoming a new community to become a part of the Lord’s work as a part of our century-old church.

Growing pains are a sign that you are living life fully and well. You cannot experience growing pains by remaining stagnant, lying dormant, or settling. Sitting and waiting on something to happen to you isn’t the way to grow. Of course, there are seasons for rest, but we were created to be workers, to toil the land, and to rule over and take care of the earth. That’s literally the reason God created Adam (Genesis 1:28, 2:15) and it’s in our very design! Toiling as builders, as growers, as shepherds, as healers, as parents… these things are in our DNA, and they’re what our Creator divined for us. Great things that happen are almost always preceded by work – whether we worked for it, or God has done the work for us.