Tag Archives: kids

2018 Focus: White Space

6 Feb

whitespace copy2017 was a crazy year…

Because of me. I made it one.

The whole year, my mantra was, “I just have to get through this/finish this/do this… THEN life will slow down and I can spend more time with my kids/have a consistent quiet time/read more books…” Except that following each one of those “had-to’s” (some my own doing, others expected of me) was another, and another, and another.

Don’t get me wrong, I was busy with good, worthwhile things…

I decluttered our whole house, did a garage sale with friends, and we donated $500 to the Lakes Area Pregnancy Center.

I co-organized and hosted a pallet-painting craft night. I organized several events for our church group. I threw a baby shower for my brother and SIL.

I brought meals to families with new babies and other needs.

I served on the leadership teams of both my local MOPS group and our church group.

I worked 2 days a week and served in the church nursery once a month.

But the more important things suffered…

I had no consistent quiet time with God. I’ve been using the same journal since June of 2016, which for me is unheard of. To me, that shows how poorly I’ve prioritized my relationship with God as well as my mental health.

I went months without actually playing with my kids, or spending time outside. There were too many “When I finish this” and “I can’t right now” responses to my girls’ pleas to do something with them. Too many days of errand-running and just keeping the kids “occupied.”

By the end of the year, I was feeling crushed by obligations. I deeply desired a day to just BE and not have anything I had to do, but it seemed I always remembered something that was either already overdue or would be overdue if I waited. I felt bitter and boxed in by my life.

Life actually slowed down in December, giving me the chance to reflect and decide that this year…

I’m choosing White Space.

I’m going to Say No and Do Less.

I’m giving myself permission to not bend over backwards to meet every demand, see every person, milk every opportunity, and take every chance.

I’m letting myself step back from being the responsible person, and the person responsible.

I’m promising myself (and my husband) that I won’t plan any events this year, and will never do a garage sale again.

I’m setting up boundaries, limitations, and borders on my time and my family’s time, so that we can live out a schedule that aligns better with what we say our priorities are.

Because that’s the thing about busyness and no margin, regardless of how good the reason: they squeeze out the important for the sake of the urgent.

NO MORE.

Things may fall through the cracks. Balls may get dropped. Opportunities, untaken. Fun things, undone. Expectations, unmet.

But I’ll be gaining my own sanity. And spontaneous memories. Time with my family. Relaxation. Refreshment. Freedom from responsibility.

That’s not to say I won’t ever Say Yes and help others. I don’t think that’s what God wants. But I will Say Yes with a much more intentional mindset, remembering that a Yes to one thing is a No to something else. My time is finite, and I can only do so much. And I want to Say Yes to my family more.

WHITE SPACE. It’s about time.

A Psalm for Moms

19 Jan

God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, I will not fear though all order breaks loose,

IMG_6045

Though everything I do immediately gets undone,

IMG_6042

Though I am overwhelmed and underequipped,

IMG_6043

Though my sanity is upheld by the tiniest thread.IMG_6046 IMG_6047

“God is our refuge and strength, 

a very present help in trouble. 

Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way,

Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

Though its waters roar and foam,

Though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

(Psalm 46:1-3)

20 Ways Dogs Are Like Kids

5 Dec

While having dogs for 4 years and being around young kids often, I’ve noticed a few similarities…

1. They always want whatever toy someone else has. Doesn’t matter if they thought their squeaker was the coolest thing ever 5 seconds ago – it is now lame sauce.

2. They run around in short bursts of intense energy and then crash hard. Only difference – dogs voluntarily sleep about 20 hours every day.

3. Everyone has an opinion about how they should be trained/raised. My dogs don’t walk beside me on a leash because I don’t care enough to train them, but I always feel like I’m going to get chastised by someone more dog-savvy.

4. If they misbehave in public, you feel like a bad parent. Sorry, we’re still working on teaching Charlie to not jump up. Or Katy to not run out the front door. Or both dogs to not go berzerk when the doorbell rings.

5. You’re more concerned about their health and nutrition than your own. I don’t measure out my own food to make sure I’m not eating too much.

6. They wake you up in the morning several hours before you want to get up. Always.

7. You clean up their messes, bodily and otherwise. Can I just say “EW” and “You never get used to it”?

8. Their safety and well-being keep you awake at night. This is especially true when they are puppies. “Does she need to go out?” “Does she think I’ve abandoned her?” “Is that her whining, or my imagination?”

9. You feel bad for not spending all your time with them. But sometimes you just need a freaking break already.

10. You plan your day around them. “Well, we should probably drive 20 minutes home and 20 minutes back to this same area, so that we can let the dogs out.” “Well, we should probably drive around aimlessly for 40 minutes so that Emma can take a nap.”

11. You talk to them in a baby voice and kiss them on the head. Hey, they’re cute!

12. You and your spouse have to be agreed and consistent on how to discipline them. Mixed signals are never a good thing.

13. They constantly want attention. Wherever you go, there they are.

14. They decide that the perfect time to bring out every toy they own is when you have guests over. “It’s a little hard to hear over all the squeaking you’re making!”

15. Their adorableness makes your anger melt every time. Who can stay mad at that face?

16. They can make a clean house dirty in an impressively short amount of time. Tell me, how does dog hair get into the freezer?

17. They like to cuddle. Little space heaters.

18. They don’t let you have anything nice or valuable for long. It all gets chewed on eventually.

19. They are easily entertained. A plain bone occupies them for hours.

20. You do things with and for them that you wouldn’t do otherwise. The number of walks I gone on has increased exponentially since getting dogs.

…………………

Dog owners and parents, can you think of any more?

What I picked up…

31 Oct

Saturday morning, I made a very necessary run to Walgreen’s for coffee and then spent a long time in the morning researching in the Bible what I wrote in my recent post on grace. I think this is going to be the hypothesis or main focus of the book I’m slowly attempting to write.

After getting dressed, I decided what to make for dinner (usually I choose 3 recipes, but this time, I chose 4 because of the little butternut squash from our garden I want to use up):

Minted Rice with Garbanzo Curry

Chicken and Dumplings

Tomato Tortellini Soup

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Then I made my shopping list, and went to my favorite grocery stores: Sunflower Farmer’s Market and Safeway.

Here’s my haul:

Pantry Items: 2 loaves of bread, instant brown rice, condensed tomato soup, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, raisin bran granola, Multi-Grain Cheerios, Hint of Salt Triscuits, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, butternut squash puree, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom condensed soup, dried apricots, walnuts, chocolate chips (which I realized after I took this pic should have been included with the baking stuff)

Baking Goods: 2 cake mixes (bought to make these easy pumpkin cupcakes and they were Buy 1, Get 1 Free), Bisquick, brown sugar, white and semi-sweet chocolate chips (also B1G1)

Produce: baby carrots, Honeycrisp apples, bananas (usually I buy more than this but we have quite a few vegetables left over from last week)

Perishables: shredded Parmesan, shredded mozzarella, half & half, pepperjack cheese, roasted red pepper hummus, mint leaves

In case you’re curious, I spent a little less than $100 on all of that (plus sandwich bags and Febreze, unpictured).

Then I checked out more books from the library than I could possibly read before their due date (thank goodness for online renewal!):

I started reading Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge and LOVE it so far.

I also set out our green tomatoes in the sun to ripen.

{Notice Katy in the window – that’s how she alerts us she wants to come in.}

Instead of diving right into the books though, I went on a 3 mile tempo run with the dogs (32:43) and then did the first 30 minutes of YogaX.

Saturday night, we babysat a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old for some friends. It was so much fun! As I sat by the 1-year-old’s crib waiting for her to fall asleep, she rolled over and I was struck by how much they are little people, with little quirks and personalities. And I realized, if I can be so fond of someone else’s kids, how much am I going to love my own kids someday, whether they are biological or adopted! I am still praying for the grace to wait patiently until the time is right for us to try. Soon…

Sunday, we went to church, ate lunch (leftover Tortellini Soup, which was delicious but very rich – would be good as a small appetizer instead of the main course, or with less cream), and after starting laundry and cleaning the bathrooms, did Travis’ favorite thing – shopping. Like a lot of men, he is very hard on his clothes and has one by one destroyed his good work jeans by either getting them irreversibly dirty or wearing  holes in the knees, until he was down to one pair of jeans. So shopping it was. I was also on the hunt for a pair of skinny jeans to wear under my new boots.

We looked at the thrift store first because I have been able to find a lot of good deals there for myself, but there wasn’t a good selection. So we headed over to the Eddie Bauer outlet at Denver West. Travis has had luck there in the past with finding jeans that don’t have holes or any weird washing technique. Often, men’s jeans are very “trendy” and Travis is not. So he sticks to brands like Wrangler, Carhartt, and Eddie Bauer.

We found a couple of great pairs of jeans on the $19.99 rack – it was such a good deal, I was worried that they had been misplaced there (having worked in retail myself and seen that happen many a time). And I was right. They rang up at $49.99 each. But when we said that we had found them on the clearance rack, the clerk was amazingly nice and gave us the sale price. I was floored. He saved us $60!

After that, I asked Travis if I could take a quick detour into a store called Papaya. It looked a lot like Forever 21 and I found that the prices were similar as well. I found a pair of skinny jeans for $24 that fit me well. They’re just a little bit long, so they bunch up around my ankles like this, but since other people wear them that way, I guess it’s ok… Sometimes I feel like such a poser wearing fashions like that! I even felt like the girl manning the dressing room at Papaya gave me a look like “What are you doing shopping here?” I guess I am almost 30… And when I shop at stores like that, I have to get over any hangups I have ever had about pants sizes because the reality is, when a size 6 adult woman shops at a store for juniors, she’s going to be more like a size 11. (Is it just me or have juniors pants gotten smaller since I was a teen? I mean, who can possibly wear those size 1 pants?)

I told Travis as we were leaving that I’m going to be sad when I can no longer shop in stores like that, either because I’m too old or because I can’t fit into anything, because those stores are so cheap! Shopping in adult stores meaning paying adult prices. Ugh… I don’t want to grow up. 

After our shopping trip, I called my mom, finished laundry, cleaned the rest of the house and then went on a 4 mile run (43:30) with Travis and the dogs. The pooches were still exhausted this morning!

Have you read any good books lately? Do you ever feel weird wearing trends?

The Future, as Yet Uncertain

17 Aug

I feel a buzz of anticipation in my life. Some of it comes from goals I am looking forward to accomplishing. Some of it comes from major life milestones being realized. Some of it comes from knowing exactly what I want to do with my life.

There are 5 things in particular:

1. Running my first full marathon in 2012

I tried (and failed) last year because I was stupid about training. Not next year! I will train smart and I will cross the finish line! (Which marathon is TBD.)

2. Moving back to Minnesota (in 2013?)

As we were driving home from our Minnesota vacation, Travis and I started talking about seriously moving back to Minnesota. We thought about what we would need to do to our house to make it sellable, where he would look for jobs, what cities we would be interested in moving to, when we would shoot to move (anytime but the winter!), etc. These practical considerations made the idea so much more real and got us both really excited. While we love Colorado, our hearts belong to Minnesota (and to our families).

I most look forward to seeing our family more than twice a year and even seeing our extended family on a more regular basis (instead of every 3-4 years!). These also have me excited: seeing more fall colors than just green and yellow; spending time on the lakes; having a bigger yard for the dogs to run around in; and watching lots and lots of hockey games.

3. Getting pregnant (in 2012?)

Starting a family has been one of those things that over the years, Travis and I have continued to put off, saying, “It’ll be a few more years.” At that rate, I’d be 40 before we’d have our first! Since we are in agreement about wanting at least 3 kids, age 35 marks the start of high risk pregnancies, and I just turned 28 in July, I told Travis it’s getting to be “about that time.” So we are tentatively planning to start trying in July 2012 and who knows from there?

Along with that…

4. Being a mother (in 2013?)

I don’t know how long it will take us to get pregnant but this would be the ideal timeline. Then, I’d be having our first child at 30. Which is old enough, I say.

Having kids feels like the last real step in becoming an adult. Even though I am 28, I don’t feel 28. Sometimes, I’m still shocked that we own a house, we’ve been married for over 4 years, I have a well-paying job, and I am old enough to be a mother (and have been for some time). Some day, I could be entrusted with a kid of my own (here’s asking God!). It boggles the mind.

As a mother, I am hoping to either stay home full-time or work only part-time. My mom had the privilege (and yes, I consider it a privilege because not every family can afford it!) of doing this when I was growing up and I have so many great memories of being with her all day, every day.

5. Being a published author (in ????)

Being back in a 9-to-5 in corporate America definitely has its perks. And for the most part, I enjoy what I’m doing (regardless of the fact that I’m crawling the walls with boredom). But it’s not what I really want to do. I’ve had countless conversations with my mom about this. She’s offered me many helpful ideas that I’ve seriously thought about. But none of them seem to be it.

Then I listened to the audio book of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. He wrote (read?) something like, “When you find what you’re really supposed to be doing, you’ll encounter resistance.” That is exactly how I feel about writing. Anyone who has read my blog from the beginning (I am probably the only one 🙂 ) knows that I have always wanted to write, but have continued to listen to the doubts, the fears, and the reasons why I will never be a published author.

But if you asked me, “If you could do anything with your life, what would you do?” The answer hands-down, 24 x 7, no doubt in my mind: “I’d write.” And not just write anything (because as a copywriter, I am currently writing for a living). But write about what I feel passionate about, what I feel like God has given to me to tell to the world — which happens to be mostly about my life and the lessons I’ve learned.

Yes, I’ve struggled with the whole “That sounds really vain” objection. Who cares about my life? Who am I to say that I’ve learned enough to teach others? But I can’t escape the fact that writing is my passion and so is God, faith, and what I’ve learned from making SO MANY mistakes. I honestly believe that God has given me this desire and my writing material, and I have to step out in faith to pursue the dream He’s inspired.

So what’s different this time? How am I going to overcome the tendency I have to get wrapped up in the busyness of life, push writing to the side and say, “Yeah, I still want to write but I just don’t have time.” Well, self, I have news for you:

If you don’t make time, you’ll never find time.

And if you don’t find time, you will never be an author. An author, by definition, writes.

Are you really willing to compromise your dream in order to do the dishes? Are you really willing to long for this aspiration to come to fruition but never work for it? Are you willing to put hours upon hours of training into a race that is done in 2 hours instead of investing in what could become your career?

This is life fulfillment we’re talking about here.

The reason why you were put here on this earth, the person you were created to be.

Don’t you dare take this lightly.

I am done with making excuses, with being half-heartedly invested in writing. I don’t care if I get published by Crossway. Or Doubleday. I don’t care if I have to self-publish or print on demand. I don’t care if I only make an e-book and sell it for $.99 to Kindle users. The bottom line is, I need to take my writing ambitions seriously. Because if I don’t, no one else will. And I will continue to gaze through the misty cloud of future hopes, wishing I could be a writer.

And I have a plan. Once triathlon training is done and I have 4-5 more hours a week, I am going to write. I am going to determine a set time, most likely in the morning when I’m most apt to stick with it, and sit down and force myself to write for at least 15 minutes. This is great advice for writers. Don’t wait until the inspiration hits you. Write now. Even if it’s crap (which it probably will be). Eventually, something good will come out of you.

Another great piece of advice I’ve heard (that I might even frame and hang up at my desk) is this:

The Secret to Success: Disconnect Yourself from the Outcome

Writer’s block often comes from worrying that what you write will be crap, no one will read it, and you’ll just be a writer wannabe. This happened to me when I was working on my book at the beginning of this year. I was too concerned about the outcome to focus on the process. So I just need to let it go, trusting that God will help me write my best.

So here’s my BHAG (Big hairy audacious goal):

Be done writing my book on walking by the Spirit by the end of this calendar year.

There will be more on this once my Olympic triathlon is over (just a little over a week left!).

Of course, in the midst of all these exciting goals or milestones, I recognize that God is the one in control of my life and that any one of these things could not happen, or happen differently than I am anticipating right now. But this is my assurance through it all:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

What are you looking forward to over the next couple of years? Any big life changes or BHAGs?

The love of family

17 Jun

Tonight, I finished the book I was reading called The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond. It was a very good novel about a little girl who goes missing and the ensuing panicked search for her. The book was a little slow moving in the drama at times but it was nonetheless very insight and interesting. It said a lot about the nature of memories and human desire to preserve moments that are, by definition, passing by.

Which led me to look through old picture albums – first, the one with pictures of Travis’ and my engagement, wedding and honeymoon. Then, my study abroad trip in Venezuela. And finally, pictures of my childhood.

And it was in looking at pictures of my childhood that I realized what a blessed childhood I had. I was surrounded by loving adults – my parents, of course but also aunts, uncles, grandparents. I didn’t realize how good I had it – of course, children never do.

My mom’s mom is who I get my middle name from – Ruth. Grandma Ruth. She lived in Hendrum with my Grandpa Ralph, in a small house on the corner. I can remember exactly what the house looked like inside – you entered into a small mud room, where you could either go down into the cellar (which I never did) or into the main part of the house. Through that door, you came into the kitchen. Straight across the kitchen, there was a cold, mysterious room. The door was always shut because that the kids were not allowed in. Once, we went in and discovered the entrance to the attic but were so nervous about getting caught that we ventured no further.

To the left of the kitchen was the dining room. The right hand wall was lined with windows and the wall to the right of that was lined with cabinets. In the middle of the floor stood a giant table – so big that it took up most of the room. On the left wall, there was first the door to a small bathroom. Then there was an armoire that took up what little wall space there was. Then, the door leading out to a landing that led to the next floor.

Straight ahead through the dining room was the living room. In my memories, the furniture was never quite arranged the same when I came over. But I do remember a TV, a couch, some lamps, a bed perhaps (for when my cousins slept over) and a card sorting machine that my Grandpa liked to use when playing cards.

On the way to the upstairs, you passed by another room, one step down from the stair landing. That was the den – I’m not sure I ever went in that room. It was Grandpa’s room.

There were two flights of stairs – halfway up the second, there was this opening in the wall. It had a door and a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. I think we called it the Fort. It was big enough for 3 of us kids to fit in there at the same time, 4 if you really squeezed. Whenever we went over to Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Ralph’s house, we would race each other to that little room. There was a latch on the inside, so you could allow others to enter (or not allow) at your own discretion.

At the top of the stairs, there were 2 bedrooms – 1 had several beds in it and the other just 1. The room with just 1 bed was Grandpa’s room. We hardly ever went in there either. The other room was fun because there was a hole in the floor that looked down into the living room below. It was entertaining to listen to the adults down there, talking, when all the kids were upstairs.

But I digress. All these memories came flooding back into my head as I looked through my photo album tonight. My Grandma Ruth died when I was only 12 or 13 – I was old enough to understand what had happened but not old enough to really understand. Growing up, I had thought of her as a little bit weird – she had a back condition that made her slightly hunched over. The pictures in my album don’t disclose any animosity toward her but I can’t help but think… how did I act toward her? Did I love her? Did I thank her for the gifts she gave me, as they were sacrifices on her behalf? Or did I act like a stupid child, ungrateful, only focused on superficial details?

These thoughts so overwhelmed me as I looked at those pictures tonight that I started crying. I wish I had known her. I wish I could have told her that her love and generosity mean the world. I wish I could’ve gotten past the outward appearance and seen her for the amazing person I hear she was. Even if I had been older, if I had known her better and been more mature, I don’t know if I could have put into words that kind of emotion.

The same kind of emotion that I feel for my mom. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by how much I love her that I can’t bear the thought of this world existing without her in it. How does one go on without your beloved parent? And I know that I fail to express how much I love her, that I fail to show her how much she means to me. I don’t call her all that often, I don’t say in words how much she means. And I realize that I’m losing precious moments – they’re floating away on the winds of time – but I get too engrossed in the minute details of life to remember these truths. WHY?!?!?

The same goes for when I’m looking at pictures of my dad and me growing up – all the memories we created together. That man has a heart of gold. I know that I am precious to him and that he loves me more than words. Knowing that makes me love him even more. How do I communicate that kind of love back to him? How are words adequate for that kind of love?  The truth is, they just aren’t. And they never will be.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t try to communicate those feelings and that is where, I fear, I fall very short. I have found myself looking at gifts lately and wondering, “Did I thank that person for this?” Remembering that Travis’ parents paid for the groom’s dinner, I wondered “Did I ever tell them what a huge blessing that was?” I think I did, but I can’t remember. And what if I didn’t? I can barely stand that thought!

Every time I feel like this, so overwhelmed at how much I love my parents, I wonder why I live so far away from them. Why did I choose to move, so that I only see them 2-3 times a year? But I have to remind myself that Travis and I chose to follow the Lord and no matter how much human love consumes one’s heart, devotion to and love for the Lord always have to come first. He is ultimately the one Person who matters. And I have to entrust my heart, and all the love therein, to Him.

But I do pray that it is in the Lord’s will to let Travis and I move back to Minnesota to be near our parents when we start having kids (in a couple of years). I want my kids to know their grandparents, because they are the coolest people ever.

I love you Mom and Dad!

How dreams create desire

27 May

Two nights ago, I had a dream about babies. A friend of mine (who is now 44) had a baby – it was a weird dream. That’s not the point. The point is that I woke up really wanting to have kids. And the more I thought about it, the more I realize that I do want kids. Like, now.

I’ve tried to convince myself that I enjoy just being married, I enjoy having this freedom without kids. And while that is true, I am starting to think that I might rather have kids than my freedom.

I still think kids are at least a year and a half down the road – Travis and I both agree that it would be good for him to be done with grad school before having kids. But why not have kids right after he’s done?

We’ll see what he thinks about that.