03 October 2015

Weekend linkage

I just discovered the blog Coffee + Crumbs, and this essay moved me so deeply that I absolutely must share it: I suspect many of you will relate. "Dream House."
Houses tell a story. Somewhere between no kids then two, I started to believe my house could tell one about me where I am astonishingly pulled together, and everything from the floors to my toe nails is marvelously shiny, and nothing smells funny. I want my house to tell the story of how awesome I am. One problem: I am not awesome. Not by a long shot.
Another great piece, much shorter (this one from Jess Connolly's "No Filter" weekly email): "You're Asking the Wrong Question, Sister."
So if you have any of that in your heart today - if you wonder: Am I doing this right? The answer is: He is.
At The Economist, a fun reflection on Jeeves and Wooster, to celebrate their centennial: "Jeeves and the vital oolong." Many are the J&W volumes I have borrowed from the library, and many are the side-splitting cackles they have caused.

"Motherhood Screened Off."
My husband thinks no amount of narration will change the way our kids feel about the phone. The problem, he says, is that whenever I grab it, they know that I am also holding a portal, as magical as the one in Narnia’s wardrobe and with the same potential to transport me to another world or to infinite worlds. I am always milliseconds away from news of a horrific mass stampede near Mecca or images of great medieval art or a Twitter dissection of the pope’s visit. How far am I going, they might reasonably worry, and how soon will I be back?
"Christianity in Kenya: Faithful in the Midst of Frauds."

Goodness, look at these beautiful bags.

This is funny! The truth behind cool Instagram photos.

I am no food photographer but it was yummy.
A Few Things We've Et:

Butternut squash soup (two smallish butternuts, roasted + one fat, tart apple + a quart of strong chicken stock + chipotle pepper and salt to taste + a knob of butter to finish)

Sausage potato salad (cubed and roasted russets + spicy sausage + lightly cooked peas and mushrooms + thinly sliced green onions + olive oil and mayo and apple cider vinegar as dressing)

Stuffed sweet potatoes from Against All Grain (very good even though I had no bacon)

Pork and chicken fajitas (with salsa from the last of our tomato crop)

Pictured is creamy potato soup (with broccoli and carrots and cheese . . . a lot like Panera's cream of broccoli soup, but yards better because of the homemade stock and the big squirt of sriracha)

27 September 2015

jealous of grace

I have often been tempted to envy other women's possessions, appearance, or travel opportunities. But not till now have I found myself envying their time.

I can literally spend the whole day attempting to transfer a load of laundry into the dryer, and by evening it's still in the washer. Our flowerbeds are tangled with overgrown marigolds and lavender, because I haven't had a moment to trim them back all summer. I can't find the time to make one simple phone call. It's ridiculous . . . or at least it seems that way to me. I love having two children but am floored by how busy they've made my life! (Should I have been this surprised? No. Yet here I am.)

Meanwhile, I hear of friends accomplishing so much that I would love to do. I see pictures and read stories of all the time they have for crafting and studying, for making music and blogging.

Sure, what we see on the internet does not always correspond to reality, but many times it does, and these women really do have time for their photogenic pursuits. They really are able to get all these lovely things done. I can feel inadequate in contrast, and a bit guilty. They have children too. They're taking care of a house too. They are faithful in their small things just as I am trying to be faithful in mine. So on top of all that how can they possibly run Etsy shops, repaint furniture, and get to Crossfit three times a week, while I twist my dirty hair into a flyaway braid and congratulate myself if I get a single carpet vacuumed?

It's because God is allowing them that grace. How could I be jealous of that? God has looked at each of us and said, here little daughter, this is what I have for you. And here is the grace to get it done.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
-Ephesians 3:20-21
More abundantly than we could ask or think? Well, I can ask and think quite a lot, so it must be that God intends to accomplish truly amazing things. Someday perhaps I will see them fully. I know, certainly, that He is dishing out grace for me every day. It looks different from my friends' portions. (And often I don't even see my own portion as grace: I take what I do for granted. Of course I'm canning applesauce this fall! Of course I visit the library with my kids! Maybe for other women those things, my everyday things, are their impossible dreams.)

"A bawoon for me!" Simple fun at the fair.

I don't want to be greedy for grace. No God. I don't want this one; give me what she has. I want to trust Him for strength, rather than plotting something different, then trying to force it through in my own power. Come to think of it, I'm tuckered out at the end of every day and don't have much energy for plotting. So I want to cheerfully acknowledge the fact that my life is already filled to the utmost, believing that it's filled with what He has chosen, and that it is very good.

16 September 2015

and then she said

"I got it! I got the sun!"
-jumping into an early morning sunbeam on the floor

"Mommy, are you sick?! Are you taking a nap?"
-because I was still asleep when she got up and clearly that is only attributable to illness

"Bye! See ya! I going to the work! Have fun! I love you! Have a good day!"
-riding away on her tricycle

"I need to put wotion on my crash."
-requesting lotion for a nonexistent rash

"Are you making an order?"
"Are you checking your wist?"
-whenever I look at my phone (which, yes, I do use to place Amazon orders and make grocery lists)

"Mommy!!! You awake???"
-while we were stopped at a red light

"Goodbye water! Sleep tight!"
-bidding farewell to her bedtime bath

"No Zoe, dat is NOT a good idea."
-whenever Zoe does something of which she disapproves

"Mommy, are you pretty?"
-I don't know where that question came from

Me: We're going to the chiropractor later today.
Ellie: Ooh! The pyro-tractor?

Ellie: Where's Kenzie?
Me: At her house.
Ellie: Where's Kyle?
Me: At his house. You'll actually get to see them tomorrow.
Ellie: THEY get to see ME!

08 September 2015

clueless but pretty much okay

"Then I replied to them, 'The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build . . .'"
-Nehemiah 2:20
I have no clue what I'm doing with my kids.

Well, fine, I do know a few things about babies. I also have some broad ideas about what my girls should learn as they grow, and about how our home life should look, and I think they're good ideas. Other than that I'm flyin' by the seat of my skinny jeans every single day.

kitchen got turned into parking lot
In fact, each time I think I found a solid handle on motherhood and start patting myself on the back, we shift into the next gear and I'm back to the blackboard. Not to mix metaphors or anything. It has been hard for me to admit that to myself: I don't have parenting figured out, not even mostly. I never will. The fact seems quite obvious, but then, I do like to pretend I've got things under control.

The thing is, when my mommy abilities-- to be patient, to speak wise words, to keep these two blessed munchkins a little bit clean-- sputter to a stop, and that's usually by 9AM, the Holy Spirit keeps plowing ahead. He tirelessly accomplishes the work He has in mind for us. I see the fruit of His tending all the time. It is good to rest in Him. (Or "just rewax!" as Ellie likes to say.) When I confess my insufficiency, I am only recognizing what has been true all along. Our family's wellbeing has never hinged on my having things under control. That's why I can see my lack of understanding, my imperfectly wise plans, and not freak out.  I am not the anchor of our souls, after all.

And you know, from moment to moment, even my bumbling efforts work out. I may not have a comprehensive theory of motherhood, but in each miniature crisis of the day I find that I know what to do. With God's help-- and often I don't recognize that He is helping, not until later-- my flawed instincts and incomplete knowledge suffice for our children's needs.

The God of heaven will make us prosper.

28 August 2015

Weekend linkage

"The Coddling of the American Mind: How Trigger Warnings are Harming Mental Health."
The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into “safe spaces” where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable. And . . . this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally. You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness. It is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.
"A Living Sacrifice: The Beauty of a Body Broken for Others." 100% excellent. The ideas expressed here are helping me come to terms with the changes my daughter have wrought on my own body-- not to wish time backwards-- and to see motherhood's marks as good (because of what they signify), even if they are not objectively beautiful.
We want, it seems, to accumulate life experiences without aging, without damage, without evidence. We want our bodies to operate invisibly, to be emblems of near perfection rather than vessels of service. The fact remains, however, that without tremendous intervention, bodies absorb stress and trauma . . . Our created bodies are meant to serve spiritual purposes, and those purposes often initiate or exacerbate physical deterioration.
Three IG accounts that are objectively beautiful, from Norwegian landscapes to gorgeously fresh food to perfect braided buns: Marte Marie Forsberg, Honestly Nourished, and Twist Me Pretty.

Have you ever heard of the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest? A competition to write the worst ever opening sentence for a novel. It's dreadful. By which I mean, you must read all the entries NOW.

This made me laugh.

This too.

And this one very much.

Ooh, this dress. Come to mama.


What We Have Been Eating:

Honey mustard baked chicken thighs
Coconut chicken curry over zoodles
Peach crisp!
Thai chicken salad with the most delicious peanut butter dressing
Quiche: roasted tomatoes, lots of cheddar, green onions, all the good things
Mashed potato pancakes (for dinner)
Plantain pancakes (for breakfast, and I actually used 2 plantains for 1 egg, making them really hearty... we liked 'em with some butter)
Random pesto sauces, with cilantro and Thai basil and whatever is green in the garden