an update of sorts

Hi, friends.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I didn’t intend on taking a 9-month hiatus from this space, but back in March I moved into a full-time role at our church as the content director (which I love), so our family moved some things off our plate while we made the transition together. This corner of the internet has been one of them.

It’s probably no secret to you at this point that for the majority of my pregnancy I was wrestling with a lot of big questions about motherhood, calling, and work. I was asking questions about what to do and what was right and what was wrong, as if there were clear answers. After a couple of years into parenthood, I slowly realized that there is no “right” way to do any of it and that every family makes decisions based on who they are and what their reality is. This has been incredibly freeing for me as I’ve stepped into a new season as a full-time working mom.

One thing a fuller schedule magnified, however, was the lovely and painful reminder of my limitations. I can usually do about three things well at a time, and if anything else gets on that plate, everything else suffers. So, right now, my focus is primarily on our family, our people, and my work. Other seasons will allow for other things, but right now, a simplified and full life is what I’m chasing after and resting in.
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what i’m reading | june, july, & august

what i’m reading | june, july, & august

Let’s start with the obvious: it’s been a bit quiet around here, and I won’t break the cardinal rule of blogging about not blogging, but I will offer my sincerest apologies. I intended on telling you about what I was reading, listening to, and thinking about, but somehow my life caught the better of me and blogging fell ever further down my list, somewhat regrettably.

Did I tell you that my husband was traveling this summer? Well, now you know, which can explain my absence (a little). He’s in grad school right now (in a program specifically designed for teachers), which means he was gone a lot this summer and we all missed him tons. Our dog was seriously in the dumps, which only confirmed my suspicions of her true feelings about me. And I probably shouldn’t mention that I got completely addicted to Cherry Coke Zero all thanks to Sonic’s happy hour. (Self control, you say? Nah.)

But in the midst of the summer chaos, I did find a few nights to tuck away and read some really good stuff, so I’d love to share some of my favorites with you:

At the very top of the list, I devoured Jojo Moyes’ novel Me Before You. I was a bit unraveled by the last page, and cried off and on for a few days after I finished it. It’s somewhat controversial, but it is so, so good. I’ve already put my name in on the waiting list for the rest of her books at our local library, and I fully anticipate going on a Jojo Moyes binge here in the coming months.

Next up: Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Kyle and I love The Mindy Project and The Office, so I could hear her voice in her book. She definitely has a “Tina Fey’s little sister” vibe going on, which hey–who wouldn’t love that?

I think I already told you this, but I really loved Myquillin Smith’s The Nesting Place. I’ve listened to her a bit on The Art of Simple podcast, and I adore her. She feels like an older sister who doesn’t revel in being “the oldest,” but one who just simply wants to share the things she’s learned along the way. She inspired me to think about my home in such different ways, and it’s definitely one I’ll come back to.

And lastly, I’ve been reading Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted. I’ve got an expanded book review coming soon, but I didn’t want to lie and review it before I finished it. I’ve been a fan since I found her on the Twitter, live-tweeting her hilarious heart out during the London Olympics. I resonate with her on so many levels, like discussions about marriage, church, culture, and motherhood. But mostly? It’s her sense of humor; she just gets me. Or do I just get her? Either way, I love her, and if I meet her in person one day I will be so totally weird and probably say something completely embarrassing. But I don’t care because she’s my comedy spirit animal. And I will tell her that.

I could go on, but the babe is waking. So here’s what’s currently on my nightstand:

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P.S. Did you notice? I changed my URL to annemwilson.com, because I’m having a complete blog identity crisis. My Twitter and Instagram handles are @annemwilson, so I figured I’d drop the cutesy name and just be consistent, since I’m clearly confused. I don’t know, just pat me on the back. Thanks for your patience, friends. 

sad and lonely walls no more

Instead of telling you all about what I’ve read over the last month, I’ll tell you about the one that had the most immediate impact: The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith. Kyle and I moved into our home almost four years ago, and I cringe when I say that I have held back so much when it came to decorating and making our house a home–mostly because I felt like we didn’t have enough money, it couldn’t be as perfect as I would hope, and frankly–I’m just not an interior designer. I know what I like when I look at a space, but other than that, I don’t bring much to the design table.

With that said, Myquillin’s book is like a “pre-house-makeover” book, more the philosophy behind decorating and why you don’t have to wait until _________ to make a house your home. I am still in the process of rearranging our entire home, one room at a time, and am finally getting up the guts to just throw a couple of nails into the wall and hang things up on our walls for the love. 

Our walls are sad and lonely around here, and mostly because I keep forgetting to print pictures and hang them like an adult. Also, we hardly have any recent ones that weren’t taken with my little iPhone camera. Ridiculous, right? I kept telling myself I’d get family pictures taken, and then summer came and I realized that we have–wait for it–four pictures of the three of us since Keegan’s birth, and most of them are selfie-style. That’s when my sweet friend Cait stepped in with her summer mini session–25 minutes and 5 digital images at a super affordable price. PERFECT. (PS-If you’ve been around toddlers, you know that “family portrait” screams NO WAY. But photo session for only 25 minutes? We can do that.)

So thanks, Cait, for giving us family photos for our sad and lonely walls. You can check her amazingness out on Facebook or the interwebs, and if you live in the Indianapolis area, she has a few spots left for her summer mini sessions!

Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography
Photo credit Cait Morgan Photography

a few things i’m loving

Fall is my most favorite season of all, and before I wake up and it’s December, I wanted to share a bit of goodness with you. No, this is not a sponsorship post, just things I’m actually loving.

First: Stitchfix. A few months ago, I decided to majorly scale down my closet. I was tired of buying cheap stuff and watching it unravel within weeks, so I decided to live out of my closet for two months and then get rid of anything I didn’t wear. If you’re like me and buy things on clearance racks (and convince yourself you’re “saving money”), and in months scrap it because everything has 3 holes in it… Stitchfix. I got a coupon at a conference to try it, and after a month of debate, I decided to go for it. If they sent me stuff I hated, I could send it all back, so why not? And wow, I loved it. It’s an online personal shopping assistant delivered to your door. No really, it’s that awesome. They should have a song. After filling out my style profile and linking my Pinterest account, they developed a style just for me to try. And the best part? If you don’t like it, they supply packaging for you to ship it right back. No harm done. It’s definitely a once-a-year type of thing for me, but wow, it was fun!

Here are some pics of my “fix”:

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I know, I know. Real bloggers take pictures of themselves in their clothes, I just couldn’t do it. Not because I’m above it, I just… couldn’t. But do you see the little “outfit idea” cards? Genius, particularly for people like me who wear one piece obsessively (as in: day, night, and to sleep) and then ditch it for a year. The girly side of me simply lost my mind.

Okay, moving on.

At the same conference, I met a really sweet girl named Caitlin, who actually lives about twenty minutes from me. She owns a pretty amazing shop called Lettered Life, where she makes all kinds of really pretty things. I’ve eyed this piece for a while … and it finally made its way to my mantle this week:

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Thanks for the living room tears, Caitlin.

Best and last: Jesus Feminist. 

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I’ve been waiting for this book to come out since I first heard Sarah talk about it on her blog. During my senior year of college, I wrote a paper in my New Testament Seminar class attempting to convey what Sarah has so beautifully created in this book. Feminism is so misunderstood within Christian culture, and I have strayed away from using the word in most circles because of how much it’s been distorted. But on an issue polarized by extremes, Sarah’s soft and gentle voice is so refreshing. And I really can’t say enough about her writing.

So, there you have it: the words on my mantle, the clothes in my scaled-down closet, and the book on my nightstand. Happy living.

from the archives: sparks

I wrote this a little over a year after Kyle and I got married, in January of 2011. We’ve been married almost four years now, dating for seven, and although I am no expert, I still find this true. It is always worth it, even on the hardest of days. 

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A few weeks ago, my mom dropped off a lot of junk from my old room in her house-–mostly a collection of journals, yearbooks, scrapbooks, art projects, etc. I went down memory lane a bit tonight–always a dangerous thing to do–and was actually surprised at what I found.

Before I got married, I pretty much saw life as pre-Jesus, post-Jesus. My life came to a dramatic halt when Jesus got a hold of my heart and it’s been a long, hard, beautiful journey ever since. But now, I look at pictures and see pre-marriage Anne, post-marriage Anne. Or, Anne Durham and Anne Wilson.

There’s this piece of marriage that not very many women talk about, and when they do, it’s difficult to define. It’s almost the “problem with no name” Betty Friedan so eloquently wrote about so many years ago, except that–-it doesn’t feel like a problem, per se, just an experience that’s hard to identify. It’s the loss of an identity, but saying that makes it sound bad. It’s not bad-–it’s just … a loss. A loss of a last name is only the beginning of it, of course. With that comes the loss of independence, the loss of freedom (in a good way), the loss of being … well, Anne Durham.

Not that Kyle forced me into taking his name, it was something I chose. I don’t want our kids being those kids that are constantly confused about why mommy couldn’t just be like the other moms and go with it. And on top of that, for me, I saw no reason to get married if I was going to continue in my independence–-I could do that well enough being single.

Good ole Solomon did say that the test of true friendship is like iron and iron–-sharpening and growing one another in the most honest (and brutal) way. And although I have not personally put the two together, I can only imagine that when iron meets iron, some sparks fly. Looking through pictures of “pre-married Anne” and “post-married Anne” tonight, I could actually see a difference in my eyes. Anne Durham, the one who thought she knew everything there was to know (and then some) about the world and people, the girl who accepted a year-long internship five states away before asking her long-term boyfriend (whom she planned on marrying) how that would affect him, the girl who decided to graduate/get a full-time job/get married in the same semester (and saw no reason that might be problematic), the girl who would have believed she could push a whole bus by herself if she had to, and the girl who ran 150mph through life just because she could.

And I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about that girl. But marriage did.

I know this will not surprise anyone, but I was pretty naïve about marriage before heading into it. I didn’t think I was, of course. Even eight pre-marital counseling sessions later, I was still oblivious. Life was all about me and my plan, my dream, my vision. I can remember thinking–-while planning that whole graduation/job/wedding business, that I could handle it because a wedding wasn’t going to change much for us. Sure, we were going to now be living in the same place, which had never happened. Sure, there were a few physical changes about to take place, but lots of people go through that, right? Sure, Kyle and I had dated for three years, what else was there to know (this makes me laugh out loud just writing it)? Sure, it’s no big deal to get married on a Saturday and drive two hours back to school on a Monday. Marriage doesn’t change that much, just my last name and well… just about everything.

A week after we got married, in between drives to Cincinnati and Indianapolis, I can actually remember sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops in Northern Kentucky thinking to myself, “My life is different now.” That sounds so silly when I say it aloud, but I thought that. Thinking about coming home to a husband instead of an empty room, planning out meals so that we could spend quality time together at the dinner table, and well, just about every circumstantial/intentional/life-changing/superficial decision changed for me.

I am no longer the girl who can drop everything and move within a day. I am no longer the girl who can visit people in different cities on a whim just because I can. I am no longer the girl who can lay out options 1, 2, 3 of what to do with my summer: Africa, North Carolina, or Cincinnati and legitimately consider trying them all at once. I am no longer the girl who can come home to a house full of girls and walk to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant just because it’s Tuesday. I am no longer… Anne Durham.
But, I will tell you who I am…

I am the woman who gets to love the most amazing man I know. I am the woman who gets to dream and pray for a life that will glorify the Lord of our hearts. I am the woman who gets to share my life with my best friend. I am the woman who gets to sit across from the dinner table and share my deepest secrets and laugh until I pee my pants… all because I am sharing a meal with the one my soul loves. I am the woman who gets to encourage the man I married daily. I am the woman who gets sharpened in the most beautiful and painful way I’ve ever known because I chose to share my life with someone who doesn’t think the sun shines out of my rear (and tells me so). I am the woman who is loved like Christ loved the Church in a real, visual way… because I gave up Anne Durham for Anne Wilson.

Marriage is a sacrifice. No one forced me into this covenantal relationship, I chose it and I chose it gladly. No one forced me into loving Christ, He chose me and I chose Him back. I didn’t know what I was giving up at the time. When I chose Jesus, of course I was naïve. I thought life with Christ meant that problems go away… not that your eyes become more aware of the world’s pain and that your heart becomes more vulnerable to it. When I got married, I didn’t realize what it meant to be one, and what that really meant I was giving up. Yes, it’s hard. Every relationship worth having is hard. But I wouldn’t choose that girl over this woman any day, even on the hardest of days.

life lately [september]

Well, hello.

It’s been a little while, right? I know. If you visit this space, you should know that my blogging-absence has little to do with a lack of writing. I’m working on some other projects right now, both personal and at work, and I needed a little space from the internet. I’m not sure what blogging will look like for me in this season, but I’m resisting the temptation to give myself a deadline and/or unrealistic goals and instead just let this be what blogging really is: practice.

So, in the meantime, here’s a bit about right now…

We are loving this season with Keegan. The cliché is proving itself–I cannot believe how fast time has gone. He is babbling, crawling, furniture-walking, playing, laughing, and eating everything but peas. I can’t get enough. I mean, look at him.1240323_571698221448_12525068_n

See?

Friendships look a little different these days. We are now in the land of bedtime–which is glorious in all sorts of ways and not-so-glamorous in others. What it really means is after 7:30pm, we’re free to interact with the human race, except, we are now bound to our house. I’ve heard it’s not socially acceptable to take your baby-monitor with you when you go out… (I’M JOKING. OF COURSE I WOULD NEVER DO THAT.) which means “friendship time” looks a lot like Google Hangouts with friends that live fifteen minutes away. Oh to live in 2013! And, of course, toting around the pack-n-play like it’s going out of style. I’m done nursing (well, actually, exclusively pumping) (yes, some women have to/choose to do that) (because you wanted to know) (#sorrynotsorry), so I have a little more freedom and am no longer pumping in bathroom stalls anymore. (Hey, you came here. I didn’t force you.)

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Besides my abuse of parentheses, writing is going really well. We feel completely at home in our new church. We’re in a growing season and feel so grateful to call Traders Point home.

Speaking of growth … I’m going to the Influence Conference downtown this weekend, which is a new venture for me. I am going with no expectations and just want to give myself the space to enjoy every conversation, session, and connection. I have a nasty, terrible habit of being ravenous when it comes to events like this–taking furious notes, stopping at every booth, trying to pack in all the workshops and track down everyone I want to meet/force my friendship on. This time, God has me in a new season … and I am choosing to slow down. I’ll get back to you on whether that’s a real possibility.

And who knew? I’m reading again. After a season of scrolling through Pinterest and endlessly checking my Facebook newsfeed like an addict, I made space to read. Confession: I grew dependent on my iPhone during postpartum. I mean, bad. And can I just say? It’s good to be back. Hello life, you are a lot more colorful than I remember. Hello books, you are (shockingly) better for my heart and brain. So I’ve read a little for work, some for fun, and a few for my own development. At the top of the list: Seven by Jen Hatmaker, Just Lead! by Jenni Catron & Sherry Surratt, Knowing God by J.I. Packer, The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe by Donald H. Wolfe, and lastly … Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. Judge me, go ahead. Then go buy it and laugh until you cry.

Thanks for letting me practice it all here. You saw it first!

 

weeds are the best of teachers

We spent nearly four hours ripping out weeds today.

We pulled, yanked, and threw out weed after weed. It’s not their fault, really. It’s all because we ignored them for months, pretended they didn’t exist, and walked around them as if we would pull up to our driveway one day and they would just be gone.

I’ve reminded Kyle for months–as if I don’t have hands –and blamed him for these weeds around our house that resemble a garden of procrastinators.

But. . . I have hands. And I have feet. And we have plenty of gloves and trash bags. I am perfectly capable of pulling out weeds, and moving along every inch until they’re all out.

And just like my heart, I ignore the weeds just long enough that when they grow beyond control, it’s too overwhelming, too daunting, and instead of leaning in to dig them out, I ignore and pretend they don’t exist. I hope and pray they’ll magically just disappear without any effort required.

But weeds don’t work that way. And neither does the heart.

Oh, I have issues. I pretend they don’t exist, but I know they sit dormant in my heart while I continue to ignore and change the subject. Like my garden of weeds, I notice them at the first bitter phrase or second exaggerated sentence, but instead of tending to it, I avoid it. Until it’s too late, when I’ve hurt someone with a cutting word, or said something I can’t take back.

And just like the garden of weeds that surrounded every inch of our house, the weeds of my heart are buried deep. And with every pull and tug, I couldn’t help but ask, “What would my heart look like if I paid this much attention?”

What if I truly gave people the permission to not let me get away with pride and arrogance?

What if I dug out all the weeds of my heart that kept me from growing, living, and really loving?

Four hours of weeding is too much. One week of ignoring is too dangerous. There’s too much at risk to leave my heart unchecked. Surrender looks like a daily pursuit of admitting that I cannot do this alone, and I desperately need to pick up the shovel and dig.

T.D. Jakes said it better,

“The sin is in the pride that stops us from admitting that we don’t know everything. The arrogance that we must always be the teacher and not the student. Of all things we fight about, tweet about, blog about, the thing God hated the most was pride. Nobody blogs or tweets about that. Often we have it and it goes untouched. The pride of life–the third dimension–we don’t teach or preach about it because it grows in our garden without ever being weeded.”