seeking God over parenting theory

seeking God over parenting theory

Hi friends. I’m over at The Lookout Magazine today talking about how in the early days of parenting, I tried to be a perfect mom and then eventually began to rely on God instead. Here’s an excerpt:

I had a conversation with myself this morning, and it went like this: “My son’s 20-month appointment is coming up. I should probably research what vaccines he’s going to get, but I’m seeing Jayla today and I need to remember not to talk about it because she is very offended about vaccines. 

“I wonder if he’s getting enough nutrition. He didn’t eat fruit last week and has declared war on vegetables. Maybe he won’t grow this year. What if he doesn’t grow? Must remember not to ask Betty about it because she’s a vegan and would die if she knew my kid was on a steady diet of chicken and more chicken. 

“He didn’t sleep last night. I wonder if he’s teething. Must remember not to mention that to Susanne because she believes in the attachment theory and would shame me forever if she knew I didn’t go rock him back to sleep.” 

That sounds like a fun conversation to have with yourself at 6:30 a.m., right?

Read the rest here.

embracing the mundane

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset A few years ago, we were living pretty disconnected and frazzled lives. Kyle and I barely passed each other in and out the door each night, and we were beginning to deprive one another of companionship. When we had Keegan, we decided to make some significant changes in our family rhythms to create a slower life, and in doing so–we redefined the word “boring.”

I’m over at Today’s Christian Woman this week talking about how embracing the mundane has changed the rhythm of our family, and also my spiritual life. See the article here.

creating a village life (in 2014)

creating a village life (in 2014)

I’ve been thinking about this article all week. It popped up in my Twitter feed on Tuesday afternoon, and I have to tell you that I wondered if Bunmi broke into my home and stole my journal when I read this part:

I miss that village of mothers that I’ve never had. The one we traded for homes that, despite being a stone’s throw, feel miles apart from each other. The one we traded for locked front doors, blinking devices and afternoons alone on the floor playing one-on-one with our little ones.

Afternoons alone playing one-on-one? Check.

Locked front door and blinking devices? Check.

Feeling miles apart from people who live a stone’s throw? Check check.

I know the danger here of romanticizing a time I don’t really know, mistaking longing for nostalgia (or an unhealthy dose of both). But I must admit that I’ve felt all of this lately. I don’t think it’s geographically centered, or that it has to do with my neighborhood or city or where I live. I think it has to do with me, when I’m painfully honest. I think it has to do with all of us who grew up finding community online and forgot to put down our phones/computers/iPads/whatevers to find community in the real faces we pass by every day.

Case in point: my neighbor followed me on Twitter a few months ago (hi, Jessica!) and I had a strange reaction. My first thought was, “Now my neighbor knows so much about me!”

Y’all.

Do I even need to tell you that my own thoughts stopped me in my tracks? Since when was it possible for people who live thousands of miles away to know more about me than ones who live within ten feet?

I don’t have very many answers, but I’m seeking. I agree with Donald Miller when he says that when a consumer longs for community, he or she goes looking for a place to plug in or “sign up,” but when a creator longs for community, he or she invites neighbors over for dinner, puts up a screen in his backyard, or starts something new. Although I’d like to think I’m more on the creator side of life, in this area–lately–I think I’ve fallen more on the consumer side.

What an odd little world we’ve created for ourselves. We’re more connected and lonelier than ever. I want to, as my friend Mandy Smith said, work every day to weave this longing for “the village” back into this strange world we’ve made.

I’d love to learn from you, friends. If you’re experiencing (or creating) this village existence in 2014, how have you managed to do it when (most) of your local friends live at least 20 minutes away? What steps have you taken to create real, face-to-face community in this digital world we’ve created?

algebra and homemaking

When I was in high school, I had a long, dramatic relationship with Algebra 2. There’s too much to even relay all that goes into this spiteful correspondence, but let’s just say–my junior year (the second round of Algebra 2), it got ugly and I spent most Saturday mornings in Steak’n’Shake with a tutor, crying my way through homework. Like most high school students, I wanted to spend time doing what was familiar and easy, so I put Algebra 2 homework last–until I was nearly failing–and my parents were all, “You actually have to do this homework or you are going to work at Taco Bell for the rest of your life,” and I was all, “Well, I like Mexican food, so that’s fine.” (Dramatic story short: I eventually passed. Ish.)

More than a decade later, I have to tell you–I met domestic life with the same resistance. I laughed out loud the other day when a friend casually said that she envied my homemaking skills, because can I just tell you? I spent the first year of marriage “bragging” that I didn’t know how to cook, and I was weirdly proud of it. (Read: really prideful and just gross.) Like a teenager refusing to learn how to do a math problem, I pretended like I didn’t need domestic skills (which is just stupid)–and even worse, that I was too good for it. In my insecure quest to make it known that I was above all that, I made a fool of myself.

Homemaking and mothering have felt a bit like Algebra 2 for me. Get up in front of a room in teach? Sure. Jump in a meeting and brainstorm a new concept, or work on a project and bring it to life? Take me to your leader. But plan out meals, play a support role, and keep everything afloat in the operations of our home? Yikes. If we had tons of cash-flow, I would immediately hire a full-time cleaning person. DO NOT LOOK AT THE BASEBOARDS IN MY HOUSE. You’ll never return. It’s astounding to me how unnatural this process has been, and quite frankly I’ve felt like the new kid in class over the past year.

But just like that pesky math homework, I’m learning something holy. Somewhere in the impossible process of algebra, a breakthrough usually came sometime around 10pm. With my dad leaning over, trying to help me through the frustration, suddenly something would click and I was able to fumble my way through problems. And I didn’t know it then, but I know it now: sometimes it’s good for us when things don’t come easy, and we have a lot to learn from leaning into things that at first feel foreign or difficult.

Maybe my identity is bigger than being someone who naturally leads and awkwardly follows. Maybe I’m in a season of following because I’m a really arrogant piece of work sometimes–and for a while there, my heart was in no shape to lead. I’m starting over, here. I’m in a season of life where in almost every area, I’m painting in the background. God has something new for me in this season, and I have lots to learn from the women who have gone before me.

I’ll start with learning how to clean my baseboards.

a tribute to my grandma peaches

a tribute to my grandma peaches

A few months ago, we said goodbye to my sweet grandma, Marie, after her long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

I was her only granddaughter–or, in other words–the only grandchild who (publicly) asked for nail polish and Barbie’s at Christmas. I’m sure each of us grandkids could tell you a different story–ways that Grandma made each of us feel so unique and special, or ways that she made us laugh or laughed along with us. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I feel confident saying that we all know we were so lucky to have her as our grandma.

Somewhere along the way, we all started calling her “Grandma Peaches,” but between you and me–I never really knew where that came from, and because I wanted to be cool like my older cousins and my brother, I started calling her that, too.

I will most certainly make you hungry by telling you about her heath bar candy that was always sitting out, a bowl of fresh radishes in cold water on the kitchen table, her peanut butter fudge at Christmas, her special chicken and noodles and homemade mashed potatoes. I remember after she would lie out her homemade noodles, my mom and I would sneak in and eat them before they could finish drying… because that was really the best part, anyway.

It wasn’t just her cooking; she was hospitable through and through. The true art of hospitality is allowing someone to feel at home in your house without looking like you’re trying, and she always nailed that. Her home was wide open to us, with chips and dip usually on the table, Andes mints near the door, and a pantry full of saltine crackers and easy-spread cheese. She gave us permission to fully be ourselves while also proudly supporting who we were.

Out of everything, her jovial spirit and perpetual smile is what I will always remember. She taught me how to welcome someone into my home without reservation or cause, how to laugh loudly and cheer wildly, and that a dog really can be a man’s (or woman’s) best friend. She was soft and kind—willing to sit, listen, and play, and I am so privileged that I got to be her granddaughter. We love you, Grandma. You are whole now.

Note: My sweet friend, Jackie, is raising funds for Alzheimer’s research with the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Jackie and I both lost our grandmas to Alzheimer’s, and this cause was close to my heart. 

what i’m listening to, watching, and reading | march & april

Spring took a really long time to emerge this year, and I will be the first to say that wow, I was struggling. If I saw snow one more day, the suitcases were coming out. I have always loved cold weather and seasonal change, except this year when the snow held on for dear life, I wondered if my flesh was actually going to leave an imprint on our living room walls. (I clearly do not exaggerate.) And since having a tiny person makes it harder to leave your house in the winter months, we may or may not have made a “game” out of bath time. Twice a day. But actually, we have a pass to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and our church has an unbelievable indoor park, so we took serious advantage of those things the past couple months.

As I look back on the past couple of months, I feel all kinds of grateful. While they have certainly been long and dreary, they have also been full of growth and (necessary) change. And most of it has come from what I’m listening to and reading, so I’m excited to share some of those things with you, as well. Here’s what I’ve been into the past couple of months…

Listening… The podcast rage has continued, so first up, N.T. Wright. One of his fans collected a bunch of his (free) talks/sermons and put them in podcast form. Thank you, fan, I am loving it. Also, The Art of Simple with Tsh Oxenreider. She’s taken a little break from podcasting this month, but since I recently discovered this podcast, I’ve been digging through the archives. There are lots of others I could pass along, but the simpler the better, so we’ll start there.

Watching… Only two shows are happening around these parts, Parenthood and Mad Men. It’s true, I live-tweet my heart out during Parenthood and ruin the show for people with DVR or Hulu+. Apologies all around. The season finale was this past week, which means you are now set free of my Twitter feed. (Although, I won’t be offended if you unfollow me. If it was possible, I would unfollow myself.) And to my fellow Mad Men friends, what did you think about the first episode of Season 7? I have so many thoughts but I want to wait for the next few episodes to flesh them out. I will say this: if the series ends with Don jumping off a building, I will spontaneously combust. (As a side-note: being married to a history teacher and watching Mad Men is the greatest combination. Right when the opening scene started this past week, Kyle casually whispered, “Oh okay, this is right before Nixon’s inauguration.” I’m sorry, what? He just knows everything.)

Reading… Our life group has been going through the gospel of Matthew this month, so that’s been at the top of my list and where my heart is really resting. But the reading challenge continues, and Kyle is winning by a long shot. I’m in the middle of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and he is… almost finished with my list. His self-discipline and fast-reading skills are unmatchable, so I should have known. I’m also reading Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller, Sabbath as Resistance by Walter Brueggeman, and On Writing by Stephen King. And I should also mention here one of my new favorite cookbooks, The Kinfolk Table by Nathan Williams, which is full of unfussy, understated recipes from people all over the world.

Eating… We’ve established that I go in phases, right? Okay, so now I’m in a homemade biscuit, blueberry crisp, and sparkling water phase. All three of those things, all day every day.

Needing… Since I’ve mentioned laundry almost every time here, I will say instead that I clearly need a laundry system. Help, friends. HELP. I am open to all suggestions and will consider throwing out most of our clothes.

Feeling… Grateful for spring, the fresh air, our life group, our church family, and our back porch.

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on working and mothering

Back in October, I was out to lunch with baby in tow when I overheard a conversation that usually makes me cringe. It was between two moms, and they were going back and forth about their other mom-friends, when one of them said, “It’s just sad to me that ________ doesn’t really get to spend time with her kids, you know… because she’s chosen to work and have someone else raise them.”

Oh, for the love.

I’ve been at this “working and mothering” thing for almost a year now, and I have big feelings about it. But before we get into my big feelings, I want to start by saying–hopefully with humility and grace–that this entire conversation is a privileged one. As human nature goes, we tend to insulate ourselves with people who look and talk like us, and forget that others live with many different realities. In 2012, only 64% of children lived in a home with two married parents. And of that 64%, quite a few lived beneath the poverty line. So, let’s start there.

Here’s my other disclaimer: I very much have an equal partner. When Kyle is out of town, it’s a felt loss. When he comes home from work, he picks Keegan up and spends time with him. Kyle does laundry, unloads the dishwasher, pays most our bills, and does almost all the outside work. I know that I am fortunate to have someone who is fully invested, and I do not take him for granted. He champions me, encourages me, and supports me. Let’s just admit it: without him, this conversation would look a lot different. I know that.

When we found out we were having Keegan, we began seeking advice and praying about how to tackle the working/mothering decision. If you haven’t caught on by now–I love advice, and sometimes to a fault I can’t make a decision without at least five people weighing in. So I asked many women, mostly those who were older than me, and they all had different responses with many contrasting circumstances. Some never entertained the question because their family couldn’t afford it. One couldn’t get a work visa because she wasn’t an American citizen, so the decision was made for her. Some worked part-time, in and out of the home, and some stayed home full-time or worked full-time. In every scenario, they were all mothers raising their children, regardless of logistics.

Three months after Keegan was born, I was given an amazing opportunity to do what I love with very flexible hours. And for us, it’s the perfect balance. I work part-time and our childcare situation is wonderful. I truly could not ask for a better person to watch our son while I’m working. And here’s my big conclusion: IT’S ALL GOOD. I believe every single mother should make the choice based on what is right for her family, her own unique makeup, and her family’s financial situation. We’re all sacrificing, and every woman’s decision will look different because she is different, and so is her family.

For some women, their dream includes the minivan with crushed up goldfish and that is beautiful and worthy and true. And for others, their dream might be that but their reality demands something else, so let’s encourage them instead of shame them. For others, they come alive doing all kinds of other things and you know what? That’s okay, too. That doesn’t take away from her motherhood. Let’s not shame one another because we’re living different stories. Isn’t there enough insecurity in parenting? Don’t we all wonder if we’re doing it right and if we should be doing something different or better or more? Is it just me? And mostly, why do we care?

I’m saying this because I sense that we’re all growing tired of this being an “either/or” conversation. We don’t need tribes on this one. We need life-giving conversations. So let’s champion one another. Let’s trade high heels and exchange yoga pants (well…) and share stories about the things our children do that make our hearts explode. And then can we put down the working/stay-at-home swords and replace them with laughter and solidarity? Let’s try that instead.

And yes, this is my call to go live in the clouds. I happen to like it up here.