Saturday, December 29, 2012

An Update on My List Project

This blog started as a project. My dear friend JT invited me to join her in this adventure to do 101 things in 1001 days. JT is a super-organized, type-A, "J" on the Myers-Briggs type of gal.  She finished her list early.

I am not like JT.

My 1001 days were up seven days ago. Some of my stuff got accomplished and I am really glad I took on this exercise.  But partway through my 1001 days, my life got turned upside down and I really was a zombie for about a year. I was alive, but only partially.  I wasn't exactly able to think about checking things off this list while my heart was breaking and my brain was frozen. So, the way I see it, I deserve some extra time and still have 358 days to get more stuff on my list done.  It's my list so I get to make the rules. :)

Matthew's life and death have a lot taught me so much about myself and caused me to ask a lot of questions about what it means to tell a good story with our lives.  There were several things that I put on my list that were idealistic or things I thought I "ought" to do.  One thing that Matthew has taught me well is that life is too short to be caught up in the "oughts" and "shoulds."

So...I'm still working on my list. But part of working on my list now means saying "no" to some of the things I thought were really important to do back in 2010.  And learning to say "no," even to ourselves, is something that is imperative to telling a good story.

[Along the way, I also discovered that I love to write.  And this blog became more than simply an update of my list objectives.  It became a place where I tell stories, stories that (hopefully) lead to a larger story, and even more importantly, to His Story.]

Let me start this "bonus round" with an update on some items on the list.
  • I have inquired about a sewing class. However, I have been so busy taking writing classes, I do not have time to take a sewing class right now. I did, however, take a knitting class.
  • I tried to learn chess. I got several books from the library and read them. And then I decided that I do not seem to have the patience to learn to play chess.
  • I wore false eyelashes for about 5 minutes. They were pokey and itchy and I took them off.
  • I received a composter. And used it for a couple weeks. And then I forgot to clean it out and it got stinky and now it is sitting somewhere in the garage.
  • I can bake several things in Gluten-Free versions.  I've decided that there are also some baked goods that I can just live without.
  • I grew some tomatoes in pots for a couple summers.  I never got to the herbs.  That's ok.
  • I do not have the energy to learn to can food right now.  Maybe when the kids go off to college.
  • I try lots of new recipes. Sometimes I blog them; sometimes I don't. But I no longer like the pressure to have to try one once a month.
  • More "shoulds" that I probably won't actually do: Meal planning, shop regularly at the farmer's market, host a neighborhood cookout, mow the grass for J (cause we no longer own a working lawnmower), read a work of Christian fiction, learn more Spanish, sell something on eBay, take a class at Michael's, or write overdue wedding thank you notes.
  • I throw a pretty fancy fondue dinner party on New Year's Eve for my hubby and a few longtime, precious friends. That counts for now. 
Fondue Dinner Table
  • I make a lot of handmade cards. I like to make and send them. But sometimes Trader Joe's has some really cute cards for 99 cents and sometimes I send those instead. Letting myself off the "always, every time, for a whole year" hook.
  • I visited Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens and the Museum of the New South.  Both awesome.  I also went to the Light Factory during intermission of a show I saw at Spirit Square.  The Charlotte Museum of History closed down.  Calling this one done.
Kiddos at Daniel Stowe
  • Invite folks over for supper: We had some fun people over.  One time we had brunch where we invited three couples we hadn't had over before at one time.  It was awesome.
  • Outdoor places to visit: we learned to explore the Sugar Creek Greenway. We spend a lot of time there as a family.  We went to the zoo in Columbia, SC. We have tried unsuccessfully to go to the US Whitewater Center three times.  This item is still a work in progress.
Family on the Greenway
  • I started training for a 5K last year, doing the Couch to 5K program.  I was having fun.  Then, I developed some awful hip flexor/lumbar vertebrae/sacral injury that knocked me out of a lot of physical activity, including yoga.  So, if this item was "go to tons of doctor's appointments, take various drugs, spend loads of money on MRIs, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and massage therapy," I'd totally be done with that one.  By the grace of God, I think my chiro has finally figured out how to help my pain, but I'm not quite ready to start running again.
  • I found an amazing therapist who has definitely helped me process some of my anger issues.  We're also still working on some things...
  • I used the "Faces" feature on iPhoto to tag lots and lots and lots of photos.  But, we have 30,000+ photos.  It's a little ridiculous.
  • I ordered some cute glasses from Warby-Parker. I'm a hipster wannabe. ;)

I have some other stuff I did accomplish and I want to blog about those things in separate posts.  Stay tuned. :)

I still want to eat vegan for a week (though we definitely explore more vegan meals now than we did before), finish the babies' scrapbooks, go to a church service very different than my own (can't decide between Quaker or Messianic--maybe I'll do both), have a date with each sister, finish our wedding album, and keep JT's kids overnight.  As soon as the last one is potty trained. ;)

Looking over this list, I'm so grateful.  It's prompted me to do a lot of things I always wanted to do and it caused me to take some great risks.  I'm grateful for the process, even if I never actually "finish."  Thanks for being along for the ride, sweet readers, and thanks, JT, for asking me to play this game.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

School Mornings

Most school day mornings at my house go something like this:

Mama wakes up at 6 am and tries to get an hour to herself before someone else wakes up. Somewhere between 6:01 and 7:15, the kiddos get up.

We make smoothies and oatmeal or toast or cereal. The kids eat and I start to encourage. Time to get dressed. Finish your breakfast. You need to brush your hair. Please put your toys away. You've got to get those teeth brushed & that face washed.

Somewhere around 8:15, it turns a little naggy. Why are you making crafts? Where is your underwear? No, you can't wear shorts today. Actually, your teacher probably doesn't need a homemade card from you today, really.  Are you wearing jammies to school? EAT your food.

Around 8:30, the heat turns up. Did you hear me?? You cannot go to school like that! Why didn't you tell me you had homework last night? Why are you petting the dogs right now?! BRUSH YOUR HAIR!!

And on more days than I'd like to admit, it gets worse. Sometimes there is screaming. Sometimes there is crying. Occasionally there is cursing. And that's the mama. Too many days, at 8:45 am, I usher the kids out the door with a little speech that goes so something like this: "I love you, but we cannot live like this." We kiss and hug and the kids walk off to school and I'm frustrated with myself and they are frustrated with me and it feels terrible and I go drown myself in a vanilla latte at Starbucks and pray that they will be able to afford their own therapy when they grow up.

Friday was one of those mornings at my house. Except that since it is Christmastime, I drowned my sorrows in a peppermint mocha.

I have talked with enough friends to know that we aren't the only home where mornings are hard.

But I can't shake the feeling that there's a mama or two in Newtown, Connecticut who had our same kind of frantic morning on Friday and sent her kids off to school in a state of frustration. That someone's last words to her child were a statement of exasperation. And my heart especially breaks for her.

Because we ARE good mamas. We want our kids to be well fed. Clean. Warm. Ready to learn. It's why we encourage, nag, even sometimes raise our voices to get our kids out the door and to school on time.

Oh, mamas. If your last words were ones you wish you could take back, I pray you will know the gift of mercy and you will have every assurance that your child knew how much you loved them. 

And may I remember your precious child the next time we are having one of those mornings, take a deep breath, and put it all into perspective.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Hope Looks Like

Last night, SJ and I were cuddling at bedtime and she told me we had forgotten to be saying our things we were thankful for each day like we had been before Thanksgiving.  I shared with her that now we were celebrating Advent and that the theme we were focused on this week was hope.

Her eyes opened big and wide. Without hesitation, she said, "My hope is for a new baby brother!!"

I told her I understood that hope, I shared it and that we would have to pray. I kissed her goodnight and tucked her into bed.

This morning at breakfast, SJ was commanding the conversation, as she often does. She was telling JL and D about her hope...that God would give us a new baby.  A brother preferably, but a sister was also ok.  And she said, "I think maybe if we prayed two times, every day, God would listen and give us one."

Dang.  Sometimes helping kids with their theology is really hard.

I sat down at the table and looked at my sweeties in the eyes.  I told them that almost every day since Matthew died, I have been praying that a new baby would come.  But so far, God hasn't answered that prayer with a "yes." I told them that whether He answers us with a "yes" and we get another baby or whether He answers with a "no" and we have to learn to be satisfied with the family we have, He is good and knows what's best for us.  It's not that we have to pray more to get God to move on our behalf; it's that we have to be present and patient to wait for Him until He chooses to move.

But let's not kid around.  Sometimes waiting and having hope is hard.

I'm thinking about this passage this morning:
Romans 5 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Hope will not lead to disappointment.

It doesn't promise that hope will always lead to our wants being fulfilled, but it promises that it will not lead to disappointment.  And that's something to cling to.