family · Home · linkups · one word 365

On Being Content {OneWord365}

So I jumped on the bandwagon. But then I read this and almost jumped off. But my “un-word” would have to be “un-complain”, and really what are you when you don’t want to complain all the time?

Content.

So that’s it.  That’s not just a word I’m claiming for this year. It’s an attitude I’m developing and hoping to nurture in my children because last night my nine year old sat in a sticky kitchen chair while I mashed potatoes and told me that the truth is she’s just jealous.

Jealous of her friend’s fancy clothes, their big house, the horses in the pasture. Jealous that some kids are already being told they’ll attend the trendy private school after fifth grade, and she knows that’s not in our future plans. Jealous because she doesn’t have her own electronic device and she barely has her own room.

I don’t want to foster those feelings. I don’t want to smooth them over and say this lifestyle we have is just temporary and someday we’ll have a bigger house, and clothes that aren’t consignment, and maybe even a horse for her to ride even though all of that is probably true.

Because if I can’t help her find contentment now without all that, how will she ever find peace with it? How will I?

For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance….

Philippians 4:11

That was my grandfather’s verse. He’d written it in the back of his Bible and he modeled contentment for me. He had nice things, some of the best things actually, but he was most content with basics and a campfire in the woods. He knew the secret of living well, and I wish I’d listened more.

So this year, I am striving to emulate his presence by reminding myself to be content in three specific circumstances.

1.  Content With Myself:  We all have a different level of capacity.  I am learning that just because other people may multi-task really well, or be able to manage home businesses, or grow their blogs into salary-producing establishments, or homeschool half a dozen kids while writing a novel, doesn’t mean I have to.  My capacity is not there right now. Honestly, it is all I can do to manage laundry, dishes, and meal planning some weeks, much less all the volunteer and church work I’ve heaped on myself. How I ever worked full-time and managed our  home is beyond me. But then again, that was when I had two less children and full-time daycare. My life is vastly different now.  I simply can’t do it all anymore and that’s okay.

2.  Content With Our Home: We have, by most standards (especially when you consider four kids), a small house.  It’s about 1400 square feet and there’s nothing particularly charming or unique about it. We bought it almost 8 years ago with the intention of fixing it up and flipping it. Then the market crashed and since we have no equity and no option for refinance that doesn’t include money down, we’re stuck in an upside down mortgage with a property that was never supposed to be a long-term home. See why I need to work on being content? But here’s the truth: it meets our basic and current needs.  There are four bedrooms, so only two of the four have to share.  The master tub is big enough for them all to take a bath at the same time.  There are hardwood floors and new kitchen counters and a laundry room (not a closet!) that’s big enough for pantry storage as well as the piles of dirty towels. My husband has plenty of yard to work in and the kids have plenty of room behind the house to play.  Over the past year, we really began to try and embrace this as a home and we’ve made some changes I’m going to be sharing with you throughout the year. Finding what’s good and not comparing our home to everyone else’s takes a conscious effort on my part.  But I want to know that I can be content wherever we live because it’s my family that makes any place a home.  

3.  Content With My Family: Comparison is a trap that robs us of all joy.  (hmm…Maybe my un-word should really be “un-compare.”) For instance, I love my kids. I think they are smart and funny and interesting and whiny and uncooperative and delightful.  They’re not perfect and yours aren’t either.  But for some reason, we trap ourselves into comparisons.  My girls brought home report cards yesterday that were all As and Bs, so I refused to scroll through my facebook feed because I didn’t want to see all the posts about who got straight As.  It’s great if your child did, it’s great if you posted about it, but my personal issue is that I make that all about me.  I make it all about how I should be helping more, quizzing more, trying harder to make my kids into model pupils who excel especially at reading and language arts because, hello, their mother is a certified teacher!  But when I do that, I’m not finding peace with who they are. I’m trying to make them into someone else.  For a long time, I’ve carried an image in my head of my perfect family.  Guess what? My perfect family is nothing like the image I had because this family I have is real. This family is love.

So that’s it.  One word that I somehow managed to make into many.

Content. 

I’d love to hear about your one word. Or many. Or just how you’re becoming content in whatever circumstance?


family · holidays

When New Year Comes Anyway

I really didn’t mean to walk away.  My post list is full of unfinished drafts and my journal scratched with ideas for posts that would have been witty or simple or just words used to fill a space that I thought needed me.

But sometimes that everyday living needs us more.  After I wrapped production on A Christmas Carol December 15, I needed a few days to decompress.  I treated myself to library books and rest times while Amelia bounced on the bed beside me and watched My Little Pony. I made an attempt to catch up on the laundry and I pinned dozens of projects I know I’m not likely to ever do.

I savored a few days of just being a mom, just being a wife, and not allowing myself to succumb to all the invisible pressures I felt whenever I looked online.

But the more days that slipped by, the more I didn’t know how to come back.  Did anyone really want an update of how we’d spent our holiday with the Lysol can in one hand and the unfinished shopping list in the other? Besides, I might write a post people tell me they enjoy but I’m not getting shares or likes or ratings worthy of a Google AdSense payout, so is it really worth my time right now?

I found myself sinking under the weight of have-to the longer I lingered offline.  I have to blog about the play.  I have to blog about Madelynne’s field trip.  I have to blog about getting ready for Christmas and I have to talk about the comedy of errors that was our attempt at a gathering with my extended family.

Then that day was past and suddenly the New Year was steamrolling toward me and I need to write about my one word.  I need to choose a word.  I need to recap the year.  I need to….

I need to be exactly where I am.  This first morning of this shiny New Year I am sitting vigil in a hospice facility by the bedside of my 85 year old grandfather.  The timeline keeps changing.  What we thought would be only hours have stretched to days and the descent toward comes rapidly slow.

So I am here.  Trading shifts with my sisters and holding his hand and my grandmothers.  Helping choose dresses and suits.  Looking over obituary paperwork and watching the weather because half the family is northeast and the storm is coming.

But so is the light.  No doubt it will be brighter than any New Year’s Eve fireworks display or Christmas tree or effect I saw on the stage. No doubt it will be worth waiting for.

So I am not going to drown myself in a non-existent list of have-to. I am simply going to begin again.  May your New Year be blessed with the sacred moments of love and may you find your faith in promises that are stronger than any mankind could ever make.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4, ESV)

family · Friends · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · linkups · summer

Freedom Walking and Hot Air Balloons {Behind the Scenes}

Hot air balloons and I seem to enjoy a last minute relationship.  Maybe it’s because in and of themselves the balloons seem to evoke a sense of spontaneity that is often absent from my planned and scheduled attempts at motherhood, or maybe it’s just simply because if I ponder a decision involving gas money, restaurants, and extra cash for too long, I talk myself out of it.

I’m so glad I didn’t back out of this one.

Callaway Gardens was hosting a weekend of balloon themed festivities and admission was half-price if you arrived before 9 a.m. So on Friday evening, we put on hold everything that was wringing our life out and gave ourselves over to children and friends and sunshine.

We slept over at with our friends Brooke and Matt, who are are the kind of friends who don’t mind when you call at bedtime on Thursday night to say you’ll be there tomorrow.  They’re the kind of friends who are totally on board with waking up six kids at daylight to see a spectacle of color against a misty morning sky.

The downed balloon beachside was called “Freedom Walk” and inside children squealed and floundered on the grass with beach balls.  The air was close and humid, but the vision was breathtaking, a kaleidoscope of colors that burned brightly as the morning sun rose higher.

We picnicked and swam and for the first time all summer, my children could play with their daddy.  He’s made a near full recovery.  It’s amazing how quickly we can forget what really matters. I’d been drowning in a sea of hopelessness and I’d forgotten that for a time before this summer began, I had realized just how precious life can be.

After Amelia and I rode that hot air balloon in June, I realized it was the fire that lifts those balloons into the air to catch a breath of wind and fly away.  

And as much as I’d like to believe it so, that’s never a spontaneous act.  It’s carefully planned and considered and just the right amount of fuel is used to carry that brightness into the sky.  

So the same for us: these fires that seem so insurmountable in life? 
If we let Him, a great and merciful God can use that fire to carry us to a far better place.

Joining with Crystal Stine and an amazing community of women this week who dare to bare the soul behind the pictures.  Tell me, what’s behind your scene?


family · Friday Five

True Roots

Five Minute Friday



 For the first time in my life, I have roots.  In my hair.  And they are grey.

I’ve always been just a little bit prideful about my hair.  My tilted nose like a ski-jump got me lots of teasing in school and my skin had acne and I never learned to apply makeup.

But I like my hair. Even when I kept on blow drying it and trying to tame its frizzes all through high school until I got to college and met this amazing girl who introduced me to gel and mousse and how to deal with natural curlies, and that’s when I really started to like it.

Then I had kids.  Now it’s falling out.  Insanely.  Like handfuls on the shower wall (gross!) insanely falling out.  That’s the post-partum thing I know.  And it’s growing in a bit at my hairline, but that’s almost worst.

Almost, but not as bad as they grey.

My roots are turning grey.  How can that be for a girl who has never even been colored, never been permed, never been anything other than a pair of scissors every so often?

It’s kinky, steely, thick grey sprouting up between brown waves and distinguishing itself along my part.  I’m confounded and vain and tired.

Then I remember my grandmother who passed when I was merely ten, barely older than my oldest daughter.  The grandmother we called Grandmommy-White-Hair whose heritage gives me lowcountry roots and a love of homemaking and fried chicken.

I wonder if she had a crisis of identity when her roots turned grey?

family · sisters · thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday {it’s a whole new month!}

I’m with Julia.  I’m so glad my series is over.  But, I might do it again next year…maybe.  Today I’m just thankful to be putting up a little post about little things and introducing you to a few little changes on the little blog.  Which makes me grateful for my 31 days posts because that definitely prompted me to make some changes.

I’m going to be adding some pages over the next couple of weeks, a little more about who I am and why I write and what this blog is and a page to begin linking my favorite recipes to.  I’ve decided that right now my favorite things to write about are random motherhood musings and really delicious whole-food recipes that fit my budget and my family.  Hopefully you’ll find something to interest you in keeping up with me.

I’m so glad it’s November.  I could hang out in November a lot longer than 30 days, not because I don’t love Christmas, but because it doesn’t come with the rush December inevitably brings.  November, for us, is slow.

We bid October farewell with lots of candy and frigid (for Georgia) temperatures.  I take no credit for those Halloween costumes hiding under the big girls’ coats and scarves.  It was all their dance teacher and for that I am very grateful.

My baby sister drove three hours to hang out with us for one.  I sent her home with lots of candy and the promise that she’s the favorite aunt…for the moment.

This exersaucer is the best $12 purchase I’ve ever made.  Viva la consignment sale!

Leaves are my one of my favorite fall motifs…though I wish jumping in them didn’t result in little leaf bits all over my house.

I’m so grateful that we had a quick beach getaway a couple of weeks ago, but I’m not sure how I feel about Amelia trying to kiss the fish at the aquarium, although I gotta admit, I love this picture.

Another item coming to the blog is going to be a series about how I’m learning to love the home we’re in.  The Nester is partially responsible for challenging me to stop putting so much pressure on my next house, but I’ve also spent a little time over at Bird and Branch and am realizing that a small home can be amazingly beautiful if I will open my eyes to what I have.

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