A Life Stirred

Facebook Feelings

I’ve been Facebook-free for nearly 3 months.

I really can’t even believe I made it this long.  (Clearly, I had a lot of faith in my ability to survive without Facebook.)

Honestly, it’s been pretty awesome.  After the initial panic attack at the idea of disconnecting from the oh-so-addicting Facebook world, it was great.  No regrets.  No struggles.  Just a liberating freedom and joy that comes from obeying the Lord.

See?  Liberated and joyful.  (Or at least one of us is.)

See? Liberated and joyful. (Or at least one of us is.)

But as you know, I’ve been feeling off.  Last night, I couldn’t take the off-ness anymore so I stayed up until midnight to read and journal.  (I haven’t voluntarily seen midnight in years!)  It was awesome and filling and clarifying…as time with the Lord always is.  [Sidenote: Why do I so often forget the peace that comes with turning to the Lord?  He never disappoints, and my affections for Him are always stirred.  But I stubbornly hold out…like I’m going to be able to get by without Him this time.  Foolishness!]

Anyway, God opened my eyes to the root of my off-ness.

I was feeling disconnected.  (I was also feeling about 10 other feelings too…which is probably record-breaking for me.  But this was a big one.)

Facebook makes connecting so easy.  Practically effortless.  Where else can you stay current on the day-to-day happenings of 100+ friends and acquaintances (and random people from high school)?  Marriages, pregnancies, births, birthdays, anniversaries, countdowns to vacation, pictures of vacation, hilarious toddler comments, invitations to get-togethers, and on and on.  All available with just a few quick clicks.

Plus, being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely at times.  I frequently relied on facebook to connect me to other grown-ups during the day.  It gave me a way to share my day, share my life, poll a large audience of moms for advice, and schedule an impromptu park party.  I miss that.  It was a great source of information and encouragement for me.

So without it, I feel like I’m always just a little bit behind.  I feel a little more alone.  I feel a little less encouraged.  I feel disconnected.

Facebook was a familiar and easy (mindless, even) way to connect.  Without it, I am relearning what it means to connect to the people in my life.  The old fashioned way.  You know, with texts, blogs, emails, and carrier pigeons.  (I’m practically Amish, right?)

Forget email!  Crayon-written notes are the way to go.

Forget email! Crayon-written notes are the way to go.

[One last note:  I'm not trying to garner pity.  I chose a Facebook-free life.  And really, I do have awesome friends who go the extra mile to keep me in the loop and encourage me.  BUT, life without Facebook does require me to be more intentional.  It takes effort. Labeling my feeling (disconnected-ness...that's a feeling, right?) is the first step in not letting that feeling dominate how I feel.  That makes sense, right?]

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Why I Write

So, remember two days ago when I was wondering why I blog and if there’s any purpose (and/or value) to my blogging?

It was pretty much a rhetorical question.

But God’s timing is very cool.  He answered my question.  The very. next. day.   A blog post entitled, When You Wonder Why You Write, popped up in my newsfeed.

Um, hello!  It might as well have been “When You, Carley, Wonder Why You Write Because I Know You Have Been Wondering Why You Write.”  But that would have been a bit cumbersome as far as blog titles go…and a bit specific.

It was exactly what I needed to hear.

There is value in finding an outlet for my creativity and pursuing it, even if I never make a dime (I probably won’t) and even if my readership stays in the single digits (it probably will).  This blog has got be about more than the slight chance of gaining popularity and fame.  It has to be about sharing my story–my life–with the hope that Lord might encourage your heart and stir your affections towards Him.  

And it’s about doing all that without ever knowing if I’m doing it successfully.

Which is no easy feat.  I like feedback (preferrably positive) and affirmation (and lots of it).  Perhaps a little too much.  [Sidenote: I had a hard time adjusting to life after college because the real world doesn't issue quarterly report cards to tell me I'm nailing it.  But it should.  Because I am.  HA!]

Yet I am learning (slowly) to find joy in the process.  The process of writing.  The process of thinking through my thoughts.  The process of putting thoughts into coherent sentences (shockingly hard when my mind is in baby/toddler mode most of the time).  The process of allowing the Lord to direct my thoughts as I write to clarify what He is doing in my heart.  The process of having my affections stirred for the Lord through writing.

So, I will let go of my desires to put out perfectly crafted posts (that will surely go viral for all the awesomeness contained within them).  And I will write from my heart.  I will be real and authentic and human.  I will learn to find joy in the process.

I will keep on writing and sharing and (hopefully) encouraging and stirring your affections for the Lord.

And that is why I write.

Maybe this picture is a metaphor about writing and launching into the great, wide unknown.  Or maybe it's just a cute picture of my daughter enjoying our ridiculously beautiful summer.   You decide.

Maybe this picture is a metaphor about writing and launching into the great unknown.
Or maybe it’s just a cute picture of my kiddo enjoying our ridiculously beautiful summer.
You decide.

 

 

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A Bonus Post

If I were on facebook, I’d share this there.

But I’m not.

And more on that later.

For now, enjoy a Free Jamocha Shake from Arby’s.  (You have to print out a coupon, but I do believe it’s worth it.)

You’re welcome.

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A Thinker’s Thoughts on Feelings

I’m a thinker.  Which generally means that I have no idea what I’m feeling.  Unless it’s hunger.  (Wait, that’s *not* a feeling?  Weird.)

I just don’t stand a chance against those complex emotions, like anger or jealousy or frustration!  I’m lucky to be able to label them.  Figuring out why I feel the way I feel?  Forget about it!  Not in my skill set.

I had some friends in college who were expert feeling-feelers.  They helped me tremendously on my feeling journey.  Basically, they were Yoda to my Luke Skywalker.  Knowledgeable they were.

A baby Yoda.  (I borrowed this baby to complete my costume.)

A baby Yoda. (I borrowed this baby to complete my costume.)

I would really benefit from a refresher course.  I feel off.  (Is that a feeling?  I don’t even know.)

And if I’m honest with myself, I know why.  I haven’t been centering my heart on the Lord.  I’ve been going and going and doing and doing and working in my own strength for far too long.  And as a Type-A, list-maker, I can be pretty successful with that.  On the surface, anyway.

But it never lasts.  It always ends in an overwhelmed, inadequate, falling-short feeling.  (Is that a feeling?)

My instinct is to try to work my way out of that funk.  To make better to-do lists.  To get more discipline.  To just try harder.

Yet, I know that’s not going to get me anywhere.  I need more of the Lord.  I need more grace and less work.  But I struggle with that big time.  I avoid the Lord.  There are no excuses.  I have the time.  I lack the desire and obedience.  It doesn’t get much more real than that, right?

So where do I go from here?

I know where I need to go–to the Word and to my Creator who knows what I’m feeling and can help me sort through it all (even better than my college Yodas).  But where do I get the desire to do that?

I will ask the Lord to increase my desire for Him.  Phillipians 2:13 tells me that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  He gives me the desire to obey Him.  That’s a bit counter-intuitive to this do-er, but God doesn’t lie.

And I will trust that He can do what He says He can do.

 

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Voice and Purpose and the Most Beautiful Summer Ever

So, I like blogging.  Really, I do.  I like putting my thoughts into coherent sentences.  I like processing though what I’m learning and what the Lord is showing me.

Yet, “blog” frequently ends up at the bottom of my to-do list.  Probably because laundry and meal-making are generally more pressing.

But lately I’ve been thinking about why I blog, if there’s a purpose to it (and if I have anything valuable to say), and if I even have a voice.  It really all boils down to comparison…again….always.  I want to be a different person with a clearer voice and a more popular blog.  If I had those things, then I would be content.  Or not.

[Sidenote:  Do you ever get sick of the thing you struggle with over and over and over?  I am so stinkin' sick of comparison being my on-going struggle...in every area of my life.  You'd think I would get some freedom from it...but yikes!  It's a deep issue...apparently.]

Then today, someone asked me if I was going to keep blogging.  It made my heart do a little happy dance.  Maybe I do have something valuable to share.

So I will keep on sharing and writing (albeit not as often as I’d like).  Because even if no one reads, processing through my thoughts and what God is teaching me is always good for me.  It always stirs my affections for the Lord.

On an slightly related note, it’s also been one of the most beautiful summers I have ever experienced.  Like 75 and sunny every. single. day.  It’s kind of glorious.

We've been playing in the lake.

Perfect lake-playing weather.

I suspect that when we return to our 8 months of winter, I will blog more…because what else are you going to do?

But I’m not ready to think about winter yet (which is saying something because I love winter).

So for now…more water and sun and playing and rocks and fun….

A girl and her rocks.

A girl and her rocks.

 

 

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Ten on Ten: The My-Parents-Are-Coming Edition

The Pennsylvania grandparents are coming!!  We are very excited.  Joanna boycotted her nap in anticipation…because it’s always best to be over-tired when the grandparents arrive.

Hand washing time.

Hand washing time.

I discovered the best way to eat yogurt--frozen and bite-size.  Genius.

Frozen yogurt drops.  So tasty!

Adorable, right?

Adorable, right?

Poor Mack.  Lost in a pile of Cars books.

Some light reading for Mack.

Entropy defined.

Entropy defined.

Free-standing baby!  Now to just be brave and take a few steps...

Free-standing baby!

The Self Check-Out.  Because it just *feels* faster.

The Self Check-Out. Because it just *feels* faster.

Waiting for dinner.

Waiting for dinner.

Dinner is served.

Dinner time!

Grandma's here!!  Paaaaarty!!

Grandma’s here!! Paaaaarty!!

ten on ten button

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6 Things I Learned on my Staycation

We just finished up a week of staycation.  After evaluating our budget and our two small children, we decided that a week at home would be more vacation-like than a week of going away.  So, Ben took the week off, and we stayed local (except for an overnight in Bangor…aka the Big City).

There are some serious perks to have two children.

See?  We can have fun in our very own front yard.

During the course of our delightful staycation, I learned some things about myself…all relatively pointless (just so you’re warned).

1.  I can. not. handle heat.  We had two or three days of 90 degree heat, and you would’ve thought I was dying.  I did so much complaining and sweating and grumbling and sweating.  Apparently, I am going to need to have air conditioning if I ever live anywhere else.

This is Claire's preferred way to cool off her thighs.  If I were that bendy, I might give it a try too.

This is Claire’s preferred way to cool off her thighs. If I were that bendy, I might  have considered trying it as well.

Hmm....maybe we had the air conditioning too high...

Hmm….maybe we had the air conditioning too high.

2.  I can spot construction equipment and farm equipment from miles away.  Joanna has been thoroughly enjoying all things trucks lately, so in our effort to beat the heat, we drove around all Monday afternoon.  We saw a lot of dump trucks.  It was worth it.

3.  In preparation for our time in the “Big City”, I checked out Pinterest for a few mom summer fashion ideas…because I knew I’d be doing a little shopping and I knew that it was time to perhaps update my wardrobe.  Apparently, white, lace short shorts are in right now.  Yeah, that’s not happening!

Apparently white, lace short shorts are in right now.  Yeah, that's not happening!

Pinterest, you failed me.

4.  4th of July parades are a blend of torture and awesome-ness.  Yes, the 20 tractors in.a.row were pretty cool (not exaggerating), but fire trucks and their sirens and clowns and a miniature horse that someone thought Joanna would like to pet?  Not so much.

Thank goodness that all it took was a lollipop and some discussion of the awesome parts of the parade to convince Joanna that she likes parades.

This was before the fire truck related trauma.

This was before the parade related trauma.

5.  I’m two years into this parenting gig, so you’d think it would NOT come as a total shock to me that life with kids is just different than life without kids.

Case in point: Overnights in Bangor pre-kids involved a lot of shopping, eating at a fun restaurants, exploring, and watching cable at the hotel.  Now, our shopping/eating/exploring schedule is dictated by the kiddos.  And we had to hide on the floor behind the bed in the hotel room, praying the girls would fall asleep (they did…eventually).

BUT it wasn’t all bad.  We went to go to the Maine Discovery Museum, which we would never have done pre-kids (because how weird would that be?!).  It was pretty cool exploring and learning with our girls.

The garden was their favorite place.  Ben was proud.

The garden was their favorite place. Ben was proud.  (Also, check out Ben’s level of focus as he plants the play garden.  Gardens are no joke in our world.)

A true County girl--picking potatoes at one year old.

A true County girl–picking potatoes at one year old.

A giant Lite-Brite.  (Gah!  The spelling of that is killing me.)

A giant Lite-Brite. (Gah! The spelling of that is killing me.)

6.  Readjusting to normal life is a little hard.  Someone is having a rough time without Daddy 24/7.  Not mentioning any names….

She and Daddy picked some wild strawberries together.

She and Daddy picked some wild strawberries together.

Sidenote:  I feel like that this picture is one that I will look back at and think, “She was so little!”  And yet right now, she just seems so big.  Time is funny.

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My Dear Claire

Dear Baby Claire,

Happy birthday, kiddo!  Today, you are one year old!  I can hardly believe you’ve been in our family for a whole year.  It seems simultaneously shorter and longer than that.  It has been so much fun getting to know you and your special, unique personality.

Wasn't this just yesterday?

Wasn’t this just yesterday?

Claire Bear, you have definitely earned your nickname, “Bear.”  You have a level of intensity about you that is hard to describe.  You and your big sis already wrestle…except you’re the only one wrestling!  When you get excited about something, your whole body tenses up, and it can be hard to hold on.  You also seem to be relatively fearless.  This past week, you’ve started climbing!  Help me!

It's Claire Bear!!

It’s Claire Bear!!

I feel like we are just starting to get to know you, Claire.  But in this past year, you have given us a lot of glimpses into your personality and preferences….

You enjoy entertaining others.  You will do silly things to get a laugh.

You enjoy entertaining others. You will do silly things to get a laugh.

You have a giving spirit.  You will often hand us whatever you’re holding without prompting.  Even if it’s something you really like.   (You're handing me Legos in this picture.)

You have a giving spirit. You will often hand us whatever you’re holding without prompting. Even if it’s something you really like. (You’re handing me Legos in this picture.)

You adore your big sister.    You are best friends!!

You adore your big sister. You are best friends!!

After months of not-sleeping-like-a-normal-person, you are actually a good sleeper now.  You and sis share a room, AND you’re sleeping through the night!!

After months of not-sleeping-like-a-normal-person, you are actually a good sleeper now. You and sis share a room, AND you’re sleeping through the night!!

Claire Annabelle, your name means “clear beautiful grace,” and that truly is a perfect description of your first year.  God has shown our family clear, beautiful grace by giving us a second daughter—healthy, strong, laid-back, easy-going, and full of spunk (which we are seeing more and more of every day).  You are a gift from God, and we are so thankful for you.

Happy birthday, Bear-Bear.

Happy birthday, Bear-Bear.

Love,

Mommy, Daddy, and Joanna

 

 

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In Search of the Elusive Perfect Picture

Today, I am linking up with Kristi at And Babies Don’t Keep.  I don’t know Kristi, but I’m pretty sure we should be best friends.  I love every single word she writes.  At this point, our relationship is completely one-sided—I read her blog and pretend we’re friends.  Wait.  Is that weird?   

Anyway, she’s hosting a storytelling link-up on her blog…because stories are a way to connect.  And for me, they stir my affections for the Lord, especially if they have meaning and depth and humor.  So I’m really excited to be joining in this month.

Let’s go back in time to early September of last year.  Joanna was 19 months old and Claire was 2 months old.  A friend had sent them super cute, matching Best Friends shirts.  Since writing a thank you seemed like too much work, I had the awesome idea to take an adorable sister-y picture of the girls wearing their shirts and post it on facebook.  A sort of 21st century thank you note.

I got them dressed in their new shirts.  They were adorable.  Then Claire pooed.  I changed her diaper and ignored the fact that she nailed part of her onesie.  I probably should have just stopped there and tried again another day.  But I was not to be deterred.  I would get that oh-so-special sister picture.

Nope.  Not even close.

Nope. Not even close.

In an effort to get at least one of the kids to stop crying, I gave Joanna a toy.

Again, not quite that special moment I was looking for.

Again, not quite that special moment I was looking for.

I changed strategies and gave Joanna her paci.

Apparently, infants can experience acute jealousy.

Apparently, infants can experience acute jealousy.

So I took the paci away.

What was I thinking?

What was I thinking?

I’m a creative, resilient person.  So I decided that maybe individual shots were a better idea.  I could always do a collage.  A collage thank you.  Perfect.

Claire--ever the serious baby.

Claire–ever the serious baby.

The lingering tears aren’t really a good way to say thank you.

The lingering tears aren’t really a good way to say thank you.

Perseverance is key in motherhood, right?  So I tried a few more times, determined to get that picture I had in my head.

Well, at least no one is sobbing.

Well, at least no one is sobbing.

Sharing is caring.

Sharing is caring.

“Yup, sorry, kids.  I’m your mom forever.  You can expect this kind of ridiculousness for the rest of your lives.”

“Yup, sorry, kids.  I’m your mom forever. You can expect this kind of ridiculousness for the rest of your lives.”

I never did get that perfect picture.  But you know what?  Sometimes it’s not about that perfect picture…because the perfect picture doesn’t reflect the true messiness of life.

Sometimes it’s just about capturing those messy moments and finding the humor in the ridiculousness.  And in all honesty, I enjoy these less-than-perfect pictures far more than I would have ever enjoyed the perfect one.  Authenticity is always worth it in the long run.

 

And Babies Don't Keep
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Ten on Ten: Gray Day Edition

After a string of really beautiful days (sunny and mid-70s), we were pretty much due for a gray day.  Honestly, though, I kind of like gray days (especially if it’s raining).  There’s just something sort of freeing about not having to make the most of every single minute of sunlight.  Like it’s ok to wear comfy clothes and move a little slower.  So that’s what we did today.

[Although around 3:00, it suddenly got sunny and beautiful.  All of a sudden, I felt like I needed to go put on nicer clothes and go be productive.  It threw me off.]

Nothing like coming downstairs to pretty flowers....even if they are getting a little droopy.

Nothing like coming downstairs to pretty flowers….even if they are getting a little droopy.

I ran downstairs for a minute and when I came back, I couldn't find Claire.  Talk about a heart-attack!

I ran downstairs for a minute and when I came back, I couldn’t find Claire. Talk about a heart-attack!

Rainbow fish and piggies!

Rainbow fish and piggies!

This has been on repeat all morning.  (Art of Celebration by Rend Collective Experiment...so good.)

This has been on repeat all morning. (Art of Celebration by Rend Collective Experiment…so good.)

Lunch was a little late today…so I tossed crackers at them to buy myself some time.

I spent the first part of naptime scouring Pinterest for Father's Day Craft ideas...and eating a Rice Krispies Treat.

I spent the first part of naptime scouring Pinterest for Father’s Day Craft ideas…and eating a Rice Krispies Treat.

Oh, those thighs!

Oh, those thighs!

Relaxing with the Claire Bear after naptime (and yes, I took a nap too!).

Relaxing with the Claire Bear after naptime (and yes, I took a nap too!).

Dinner tonight: Lentil burgers with bacon.  Ha!

Dinner tonight: Lentil burgers with bacon. Ha!

And a bonus picture (lest you think everything was picture perfect today):

Baby's First Tantrum.  That's going in the baby book.

Baby’s First Tantrum. That’s going in the baby book.

ten on ten button

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