A Life Stirred

Ten on Ten: The Beautiful Day Edition

Morning bath time.

Morning bath time.

Georgie Time.

Georgie Time.

Birds in the road time.  Huh?

Birds in the road time. Weird.

Toddler Time at the library (and snack time).

Toddler Time at the library (and snack time).

Potty time.  HA!

Potty time. HA!

Naptime.  (Unrelated, Georgie regularly scares the crud out of me at night.)

Naptime. (Unrelated, Georgie regularly scares the crud out of me at night.)

Favorite fall treat time.

Favorite fall treat time.

Breaking Free time.

“Breaking Free” time.

Delivery fall treat time.

Delivering fall treat time.

Stacking the canned goods time.

Stacking the canned goods time.

So, now that you’ve seen my day, let’s chat for a minute.  The point of Ten on Ten is to find the beauty in the ordinary, right?  I could have easily found ten not-so-beautiful moments of my day.  Claire is getting all four of her molars (and was subsequently very crabby).  Joanna is getting a cold (and was also subsequently crabby).  There were sister-fights, melt-downs, and messes.  I could have easily focused on all that.  Yet because I looked for the beauty in my day, I found it.  And because I found it, it’s what I will remember.  Not the messes, the fights, the frustrations, or the crabbiness, but the beauty.

And that is what Ten on Ten is all about.
ten on ten button

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A Christmas Road Trip Story

So it turns out, I really enjoy this storytelling process.  The process of remembering, writing, and sharing a part of my life (and my heart) with you.  (Yes, you, my 5 faithful readers.) 

Plus I like that I get to delve into alllllll the details that I would probably just skim over in real life.  I have this fear of boring people in conversation (because I know we’ve all been in that conversation where all you can think is “Goodness.  Shorten this thing up!”).  So I tend to abbreviate my thoughts and stories.  But really, in my heart of hearts, I just want to go on and on and share all the details and the backstory and the hilarities. 

Thank goodness for this fabulous thing called a blog.  I can go on and on.  And no one can stop me.  Because it’s my little space in the internet.  If I am completely dull, you can just stop reading.  I don’t have to watch you subtly check the time on your cell phone.  And you don’t have to come up with a polite way to excuse yourself from the conversation.  Win-win, right?

Ok, so for Christmas last year, we traveled down to Pennsylvania and New Jersey in order to visit all kinds of extended family.  It was an awesome trip, exceeding all my expectations (even though I was very careful not to have any).

See?  We had a great trip.

See? We had a great trip.

Except with regards to the actual traveling part.  That part was terrible.  Really, really terrible.

There was the crummy weather—a snowstorm on the way down and a rainstorm on the way back (ironically, the rainstorm was worse).  There was the 6 month old who could just sense when we were about 20 minutes away from our next planned stop and would scream her head off until we made it.  There was traffic and a crabby toddler and a few grumpy grown-ups.  And there was the actual distance.  700 miles and 12 hours one way is not for wimps.

But the best part was our return journey.

And by “best”, I clearly mean “worst.”

We left Ben’s sister in NJ and headed north…in a crazy rainstorm.  Visibility was…terrible.  (I am so lame at estimating things like visibility.)  Our goal was to make it to Portland, where we would crash at a (pre-booked) hotel, and then do the second half of our trip the next day.

There was traffic and longer-than-anticipated stops and crabby kids (who were all done with the carseats after a week of lots and lots of traveling).  But after a looooong day, Portland was nearly in sight!  We watched the miles and minutes tick down on the GPS.  It started snowing and the girls started fussing, but we were only about 20 minutes away from our destination.  No big deal.

And then….

The oil light blinked…

Then all the other dashboard lights blinked…

Then the car just shut down.

Not good.  (That was my expert analysis of our situation.)

With a not-yet-two year old and a 6 month old in the back, I took to entertaining them while Ben checked out the car.  And by “entertaining”, I mean I sung just about every children’s song I could think of…which, by some miracle, worked!

Since Ben and the kind road-crew guy who stopped were unable to determine (or fix) the issue, we called a tow truck.  And then we waited…forever!!  Give or take.

The snow really picked up while we waited, and it started accumulating on the road.  Obviously, the car wasn’t working, and neither was the heat.  So, I was suddenly very thankful that Ben requires lovingly suggests I always travel with a blanket.

Eventually, the tow truck came.  Yay!

But the tow truck cab only had a bench seat.  You know the kind that can fit two, maybe three (if you’re willing to be cozy).  And there were 5 of us…and two who required car seats.

But it was late.  We were tired.  It was snowy.  So we loaded into the cab: Claire (in her infant carrier) on Ben’s lap, Joanna on my lap, and me trying to keep my legs out of the way of the gear shift (and simultaneously trying to keep my thighs from touching the tow-truck guy’s).

Off we went down I-95…slowly because it was really quite snowy and slick.

And then Claire started screaming.  Loudly.

It.  Was.  Awful.

I kept apologizing.  Because really, nobody wants to be driving down an interstate in terrible weather with an overloaded cab of people AND a screaming baby.

The tow truck guy was amazing.  Every time I apologized, he would respond, “Babies will be babies.  They cry.”

At one point, he calmly asked, “Do you think music would help?” as he turned on the radio for Claire (who actually paused for a few minutes).  It turned out that this was Tow Truck Guy’s first night on the job.  He even offered to drop us off at our hotel before he took our car into the shop (possibly just to get rid of the screaming child) at no extra charge.

After the longest 20ish miles ever, we finally made it to the hotel.  I brought the girls into the lobby while Ben unloaded the stuff from the car.  And Claire?  Claire was as happy as a clam.  Apparently, she just likes to be heard sometimes.

But the very best part of this whole (long) story?

Our car stopped working because…wait for it…we ran out of gas.

How embarrassing.

But it certainly makes for a good story.  Or at least a long one.

And Babies Don't Keep
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project: on purpose

I don’t know about you, but I know I could benefit from more purpose in my life.  When I float through life (without purpose or intention), things generally don’t go well.  I get stressed and frustrated and annoyed and…yeah, it’s ugly.

My cousin-in-law, Sarah, has started a blog all about purpose!  About having a direction in our lives and in what we do.  Goodness, doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Anyway, you should totally check out her blog.  It’s great…and encouraging.

….and I may have guest posted there today.  Because I’m famous like that.

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Planted and Blooming

“Bloom where you are planted.”

I’ve been hearing this phrase everywhere lately.  So naturally, it’s got me thinking.

I feel like I need to confess that my first thought on this phrase isn’t very spiritual or wise or deep.  Every time I hear it, I picture a person literally planted in the soil with a little green sprout popping out of his head.  My brain is so silly.

But there actually is some good truth in this phrase (once I get beyond my literal brain).  Let’s delve into it a little, shall we?

Part 1:  “Where you are planted…”

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. 

Acts 17:26-27

God has determined where I will live and for how long.  He actually cares about where I am (geographically speaking) and what I do there.  He knew that I would come to Maine and live here for as long as I have.  My 1-year-turned-8-years didn’t surprise Him.  In fact, it was even part of His plan.

So God has planted me in a specific location for a specific time and for a specific purpose (even I don’t know those specifics).

[And by the way, God planted you in a specific location for a specific time and for a specific purpose.  It’s worth remembering.]

Part 2: “Bloom…”

He [the man who delights in the law of the Lord] is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers. 

Psalms 1:3

If I plant myself in God’s Word, I will yield good fruit.  With the Lord at work in my life and heart, I will grow and flourish.  I will be productive.  I will bloom.

And it may not always look like what I expect.  It may not be blooming according to the World’s standards.  It may not look like the American Dream and a house of my own and 401Ks.  But it will be fruitful for the Kingdom, which is even better than all those quick-to-fade things.

Hey, look!  It's a free printable here!

Hey, look! It’s a free printable!

I do want this phrase to be true in my life.  I don’t want to wait until I’m “settled” somewhere or until I’ve got it more together or until I can know some of the specifics of my planting and my blooming.  I want to bloom now…where I am planted now.  But more than anything, I want to be rooted in God.

With my roots deep in you, I’ll grow the branch that bears the fruit

And though I’m small, I’ll still be standing in the storm

‘Cause I am planted by the river, by your streams of living water

And I’ll grow up strong and beautiful, all for your splendor, Lord

“For Your Splendor” by Christy Nockels

(Love love love this song!)

 

 

 

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A New Phone and an Ugly Heart

Ben and I just updated our phones.  For the first time in nearly four years.  FOUR YEARS!  That’s like 28 years in technology-years, right?

It was very much overdue.  My phone was taped together, and I was texting at a snail’s pace.

Anyway, Ben got a smart phone, which is not making him feel smarter.  (Case in point: at one point last night, when trying to set his alarm for the morning, he changed the time on his phone, and we couldn’t figure out how to fix it.  Smart phones do not make one feel smart, apparently.)

And I got a…not smart phone.  It’s nicer than my old phone, and it’s not held together with tape.

But do you want to know what’s happening in my heart?

Jealousy.  Envy.  Coveting.  Discontentment.  Ingratitude.

Basically, lots and lots of sin.

It’s so ugly.  In fact, part of me doesn’t even want to write about it.  Because I end up sounding like a spoiled, entitled little brat.  Which I guess I am right now.  Ugh!

However, I am called to walk in the Light and shed light on the darkness.  Even the darkness in my own heart.

There is an undeniable pull towards new things—especially new technology and the “in” items.  I can’t deny that I want an iPhone.  It seems like everyone has an iPhone.  Why can’t I have one?  (And yes, that was totally written with a whiney voice.)

But when I succumb to that line of thinking, I completely discount all of the good gifts I have around me—technology and otherwise.  Within my line of sight right now, I see 2 laptops, a TV, DVD player, a Wii, a tablet, and a new phone.  And that’s just the technology I see.

Then on top of that, there are the more intangible gifts that are even more meaningful than stuff—a house to call our own, plenty of healthy food, clean and ample water, two beautiful and healthy (what a gift that is!) little girls, a husband who works so hard to provide for us, a Father in Heaven who loves me enough to send His son and who cares enough to reveal sin in my heart so that I might be transformed!

And I have the nerve to want something I don’t have.  It kind of makes me want to barf.  When put into perspective, my selfishness is completely ridiculous!

I suspect I’m not the only one who struggles with this.  It may not be an iPhone for you (because you probably already have an iPhone like everyone else…I kid, I kid), but ingratitude can sneak into our hearts in a million different ways.

So let’s be real…what do you find yourself wishing you had?   Do you struggle to be thankful for what you do have?  Or is this an area you don’t struggle in?  (And ohmyword, if you don’t struggle with this, please share!)

By recognizing my sin, repenting of it, and putting truth onto the lies I’m tempted to believe, I will gain freedom from the ugliness in my heart.  The Lord is faithful to transform my mind, and I will be able to be thankful for all the blessings I do have, instead of seeing what I don’t have.

Two of my favorite blessings.

Two of my favorite blessings.

 

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It’s About Time.

Time is absolutely fascinating to me.  Seriously.  I love thinking about time and its speed (which is constant, but doesn’t feel constant).

One of my favorite ways to unwind my mind at night is to lie in bed and play the “Time Game” (which I just named right now).  Let’s play a quick round…

[Brace yourself…this may get a little confusing.  Feel free to skip the “Game” and head down to the picture of Joanna.]

So, I pick a kid whose age I have paused in my head.  For example, Tyler will be forever paused at 18 months old.  Sorry, buddy.

Handsome little guy.

Handsome little guy.

That was 5 years ago.  He’s 6 now…and so so tall (still handsome though).

The moment of that picture doesn’t feel that long ago.  I remember that day pretty clearly.  I’d been married for about 4 months.  Ben and I were kid-free but dreaming about our future family (me more than him at that point).  The five years between that picture and now went fairly quickly.

Generally at this point in the Time Game, I pause to marvel at the fact that I now have TWO KIDS.  And one, who wasn’t even close to existing at the time of that picture, now exists and has lived longer than Ty had at that moment.  That moment which wasn’t really all that long ago anyway.  (Confused yet?)

Joanna at 18 months.  It's also worth noting that Claire now wears that shirt.  Time is so strange...and awesome.

Joanna at 18 months. It’s also worth noting that Claire now wears that shirt. Time is so strange…and awesome.

Anyway, the last step of the Time Game is the best (and most mind-blowing).  I fast forward the same amount of time (5 years, in this case) and try to imagine my life 5 years from now.  I will be 35 (weird).  I will have a 7 year old who will be starting second grade in the fall, and a 6 year old who will be starting first grade!  WHAT?!?!  And Tyler will be 11!!  A 6th grader!!  That’s in-sane!

So, yeah, time.  It’s cool, right?!  (I am fully aware that I probably lost most of you during that “game”, but hopefully, you’ll rejoin me now.)

It moves at a constant speed, but it never really feels constant.  It can drag on, and it can fly by.  It can do both at the same time (hello, toddler years).

Time is crazy.  You can’t stop it.  And you can’t speed it up.

But here’s what really, really blows my mind…

God is outside of time.

I can ponder time and its passage, but I have zero control over time or what happens as time passes.  My view of time is oh-so-small small….and limited…and finite.

But God has a view of time that goes from everlasting to everlasting.  He is not bound by time like you and I.  It is all within His control.

That leaves me wanting to submit all my time to the Lord, who is outside of it all.  I know nothing about tomorrow, but as Matt Chandler puts it, “[God] is outside of time so tomorrow isn’t something he knows about and he’s looking forward to; tomorrow is actually a place he is right now.”

God is in tomorrow!  Mind blown.

So, I will keep playing my Time Game at night (I need something to help me fall asleep), but I will let it remind me that God is bigger than all of time.  I will let time stir my affections for the Lord, and I will lean deeper into Him who holds all my days in His hands.

 

What about you?  Does time blow your mind too?  Or do you have something else that reminds you that you are small and God is not?

 

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Becoming a Real Grown-up: Step One

It’s that time again!  Story-telling time!  Kristi at And Babies Don’t Keep hosts a monthly story-telling link-up, and I’m a fan.  (Even though I missed last month, I’m still a fan.  Just not a very organized fan.)  Story-telling is a way to connect and to share and to stir our affections for the Lord.  They are way to get to know one another and to get beyond the basics. 

All too often, as a mom of young kids, I fail to really dig into my friends’ pasts.  It’s easy to get lost in the here and now (especially when the “here and now” generates so many poopy diapers and whiney toddlers), but I want to be better at learning who my friends are and how they came to where they are today.  

So, in light of that, I will be sharing a story of how I came to be where I am today…literally.  (And yes, I’m using that word correctly.)

It was 2006.  It was my senior year in college.  I felt old.  (HA!)

I double majored in Spanish and Mathematics.  Strange combo, I know.  I just liked both subjects.  While I had no idea what I was going to do with that degree, I figured it’d come to me eventually…which was a great plan when I was a sophomore but was not quite as comforting as a senior with real life just around the corner.

So I did what any responsible senior would do…I ignored the fact that I was graduating.  I focused on important things like bubble wrapping the math wing and playing mud football.

Seriously.  We used a lot of bubble wrap.

Seriously. We used a lot of bubble wrap.

My armpit stayed clean and dry. That never happens!

While that may sound a bit flippant, it really wasn’t.  I trusted God, and I knew that He would provide my next step…regardless of whether I started in March or May.  So, I waited until the summer to start my job hunt.

I graduated and then tackled step one in becoming a legit grown-up: get a job.

Graduation!!  I probably should have ironed my gown....

Graduation!! I probably should have ironed my gown….

I decided to pursue teaching jobs that would hire me without a certification.  I applied to lots and lots and lots of places.  I got really good at resume writing (or at tweaking a resume for a particular job).  I went on a few interviews.

In the middle of July, I drove 12 hours to northern Maine for an interview at a residential math and science magnet school.  They were looking for a “Residential Intern”, which entailed living in the dorm, shadowing a teacher, and then teaching my own math class in the spring semester.  It sounded appealing because I wouldn’t have to dive right into teaching high school math.  Basically, I could ease into being a real grown-up.

There were all kinds of perks to the job.  I had a place to live.  They would feed me and provide internet and cable.  I would be saving pretty much everything I made.  It was in a beautiful location.  A little rural.

Ok, ok, a lot rural. But beautiful.

"She neeeeeeds wiiiiiiiide open spaaaaaaces."

“She neeeeeeds wiiiiiiiide open spaaaaaaces.”

And it was only a year-long contract.  The school pretty much expected turnover, so I could try out teaching and dorm living and go from there.  (And no, it didn’t occur to me that perhaps there was turnover because living in a dorm with 100+ teenagers was totally cray-cray.)

So, I took the job. And two and half weeks later, I jammed myself and all my stuff into my ’99 Corolla and headed north for a year of adventure!

See?

See?  I’m ready for adventure.

That was 8 years ago this week.

But how one year turned into eight is another story for another day.

And Babies Don't Keep
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Ten on Ten: The Forgetful Edition

So, despite having a dream about Ten on Ten last night, I still completely forgot about taking pictures.

However, it’s probably for the best.  Someone in our family (not mentioning any names) had to spend a lot of time on the little potty today.  And who really wants a “Ten on Ten: The Potty Training Edition”?!  I mean, I’m all for finding the beauty in the ordinary, but that would’ve been a challenge.

In light of that, I’m going to break all the 10 on 10 rules.  So, enjoy 4 pictures from one moment in my day.

Dada and his garden helper.

Joanna, a garden helper.

Modeling the zucchini.

Claire, a zucchini model.

Daddy's Girl #2.

Ben photo-bombed our zucchini modeling session.

Daddy and his girls.

Daddy and his girls…and our zucchinis.

ten on ten button

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Then and Now

Time flies, right?

Unless it’s 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm…

Can I get an amen?

It’s just amazing to me how fast the girls are growing.  Even in the last 7 months.  It’s actually kind of crazy.

Then:

January 2014

January 2014

Now:

August 2014

August 2014

Also, I think if the “baby” can climb up into the bouncy seat, it’s probably time for the bouncy seat to be retired.

I laughed, took a picture, and then rescued her.  She only appreciated one of those things.

I laughed, took a picture, and then rescued her. She only appreciated one of those things.

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Always a Daddy’s Girl

One of my favorite things about being a mom is watching my kids learn language.  It’s mind boggling that they go from a baby-blob to a talking human being in basically 2 years.  Crazy.

[Sidenote: I used to work at a preschool for kids with developmental delays, which made me extra appreciative of language acquisition.  I know it doesn't always happen easily or quickly, but it's just so amazing to watch a kid connect sounds to words to objects...and for them to realize that there is  power in using language.  So, so cool.]

Joanna frequently makes me laugh with what she says, and I love the insight into her little mind.

Today (while sitting on the potty because that’s what we do allllll the time now), she saw this picture in her baby book:

Joanna as a baby bump (December 2011)

Joanna as a baby bump (December 2011)

I explained that it was her in Mama’s belly.  And in my head, I marveled at how that was really just yesterday and now I have a talking, potty-training two year old next to me.  Just a quick trip down memory lane.

Joanna studied the picture and said, “Dada’s holding me.”

I suppose she’s not wrong, but come on, Joanna!!  You are inside ME!  And Dada gets the credit for holding you?!?!

Once a Daddy’s Girl….Always a Daddy’s Girl.

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