Friday, September 23, 2016

Samson's Ambivalent Character And What It Can Teach Us About Marriage (7QT)

Have you read the story of Samson and Delilah recently? If you have, did you know that he once caught 300 foxes, tied them together in pairs, and set their tails on fire?

I was recently reading this story to my children, and as I read it, it struck me how ambivalent Samson was. He seemed to be good, in some ways, but he also had a lot of bad things going for him.

How is he ambivalent? I'll give you seven reasons.

1. His Strength was Good
Samson was stronger than an ox. He tore apart a young lion as easily as he might have torn apart a young goat, as it says in the book of Judges. If anyone knows anything about Samson, they know for sure that he was strong.

2. He was a Part of God's Chosen People, which was Good
Samson was Jewish, from the tribe of Dan.  He was to be a Nazirite, with no razor ever touching his head as a sign that he was dedicated to God, to lead the Israelites as Judge and Leader.

3. He was sexually immoral-- which was really Bad. He visits a prostitute, and although married to a Philistine woman, he falls in love with Delilah.

4. He caused a lot of ruckus, which was Bad- he sets the tails of 300 foxes on fire, he challenges Delilah by not telling her the real source of his strength, and he repeatedly seeks revenge on his enemies.

5. He ended up killing himself along with the Philistines and that's the end for him, which was Bad:

 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

6. Sadly, Samson had strength, but it was in his hair, which was Bad.  He was a major, major hypocrite, as we can see from his actions- revenge, infidelity.  He wasn't a fit leader or judge. When his hair was long, he was unfettered. He was awesome. He was perfect. He was everything you'd want in a man... right?

7. He followed God's leading when it came to his wife, which was Good (I guess), but she was a Philistine, which was Bad (according to his parents).

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman.When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?
But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4

He knew, when he met his wife, that she was the one for him. He did not, like David with Bathsheba, simply admire her beauty. He knew in his heart that she was the one. This rings true for me. I'm not sure why. He trusted a higher power, and it was a decision based on faith (even though it did not end well for them).

Well, it doesn't take long to see the analogy between Samson and our lovely country, the U.S.A.  Pardon me for stating the obvious, but while we are strong, a "Christian nation" ... (so I guess we're strong, right?), in many areas of our culture, we don't have our priorities straight at all! We have "in God we trust" on our money,  yet, we perpetuate some of the worst propaganda about sexuality in the world.

We are worse than ambivalent: I don't have to quote song lyrics for you to know that our culture is seriously vile- if you base it on what is popular on screen and in music today. I'll tell you what is mentally deranged (if Samson isn't), it's the hook-up culture co-mingled with our so-called "fear of the Lord."

Samson had good things going for him, like us, but I think Samson was also really, really lost. How would you expect Samson to be a good judge and leader if he is sleeping with prostitutes, cheating on his wife with Delilah, and showing off his great power with flashy vendettas every time he turns around? He is deeply ambivalent, and his end- which is basically an old-fashioned form of a suicide mission- it is definitely one of the saddest stories in the Bible.

But despite how sad this story ends up being, maybe- just maybe- we can learn some things from him.

First of all, I think we can say with certainty that unlike Samson's worldview, the elements of a Christian marriage (and view of sexuality) is that it is rooted in holiness and forgiveness.   Samson wanted neither of these things. He wanted power, and he wanted revenge on his enemies. The examples of divorce are endless in Hollywood. Hook-up culture is rampant. Living together isn't considered "a big deal" anymore. Marriage has been misconstrued, and we even idolize those whose example when it comes to marriage and sexuality is much less than stellar. ;)

Every Christian couple must surrender their worldly dreams and desires for these two things- holiness and forgiveness. Without realizing that marriage is meant to (1) make us holy, we miss the mark deeply. And (2) secondly, in forgiving, Christian couples recognize something that non-Christian couples do not. Both parties in a marriage are deeply responsible for sin- and we both deserve forgiveness. And with that, we must learn to apologize and ask for this forgiveness.

I do not think Samson even got to the place where he said sorry or asked for help. He was strong. He knew it. He was proud. He knew it. He was FINE; he wanted to keep his strength. He didn't care that Delilah was pushy; he lied to her several times before revealing that his hair was the key to his strength. He was deeply flawed, but he wanted revenge on his enemies, and this thirst for revenge led to his own demise. Based on his flaws, I think we can say his life was a sum total of sad, sad, sad.

I think the takeaway here is that we should stop being so much like Samson.

I think that if more marriages started out this way- based on faith- perhaps more marriages would come out stronger. And if they "ended" this way- in faith- they would last longer, and they would bear the fruit that God desires: Holiness, Forgiveness, and ultimately, Love.

linking up with Kelly @ 7QT

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Four Super Simple Sewing Projects

I know I used to talk about sewing a lot on my blog, but it has been so long most of you probably do not remember. My sewing machine broke, and I had to save for a little while to replace it. I am happy to report that it was my goal by September to be back in business with my sewing machine.
remember this one? 

I have a small but reliable repertoire for sewing, and another goal besides #actuallysewing was to improve my small and limited, but definitely reliable, abilities when it comes to sewing.
another old couple of projects- pillow cover, drawstring bag, and burp cloth
you can see the sewing I did for our boy nursery here... I made the quilt, the baby blanket, and the pillow covers shown in the pictures

I think I always thought I would sew curtains or a huge, professional quilt in order to truly call myself a seamstress. But you know what? You don't have to mend clothes, hem skirts, or sew huge blankets in order to be a real seamstress. All you need are a few simple skills, and then you just repeat those skills over and over again, and improve the same projects as you do!

That's what it has taken me thirty-three years to learn. ;)

So today, I bring you four super simple sewing tutorials. This is mainly to release some of my brain space (to make room for more entry points, of course!), but if it helps or inspires you in the sewing department, well, then great!! I hope I can continue these four simple projects through the years in order to bless other people with gifts! ;) Sewing is versatile and helpful- and believe me, it can be simple and pure fun. It doesn't have to be that frustrating sister-in-law in your life.

Leeeeeeeeet's Sew!!!!! :-O

One note before we begin: always pre-wash, dry, and iron your fabric; then you can snip the strings on your raw sides. This prevents shrinkage in future washings of your projects- very important.

(1) Minky Baby Blanket

I must just say this is just about my favorite sewing project to make. You can make it in one day. I looked at the one I made for Anders, and that was about all the reminding I needed to remember how to make this.
Simple directions:
dimensions... sigh... so good at math 
--thats Width by (then) Length--

1. For the front (pictured), cut out 3 rectangles: 31x7, 31x16, and 5x23 - all out of differing (bows, polka-dot, and floral, in my case), but cute patterns.
2. For the back, cut out 1 rectangle (minky pink fabric) total is 1 yd (36in) x23in. (The picture says 38, but just ignore that.... although some extra give can't hurt... you can always trim later).
in process

3. Assemble front pieces (right sides together) and sew together as shown, then iron.
4. For the front piece and back piece, put right sides together-pin-  and sew.
5. Turn right side out, leaving a small space to push out your corners.
6. Topstitch remaining hole, and you are done.
The bonus for a little baby lovie like this is that you do not have to worry about binding. It saves so much time, and it would be a perfect project for a beginner, for this reason.

Lavender  Sachet
Mint + Tea Tree/Eucalyptus Sachet

(2) Lavender, or Mint + Tea Tree/Eucalyptus Essential Oils Sachet^

The last time I made these, I used a blue minky fabric leftover from a baby blanket I made for Anders.  I made a square bag (5x5), and filled it with scraps of fabric and cotton balls doused with  peppermint essential oils. It smelled so good! I suppose you could also fill these bags with rice and heat them for aches and pains! The leftover ballet fabric made a cute door-hanging sachet for the girls' room! And-mmm!! This says, oh so subtly: "Don't forget ballet today! And smell me - I smell like lavender."

I uploaded a video on Youtube just so that you can see that this is a project you can whip up in minutes. Perfect for beginners, too! Which I am, sort of, basically!

1. Cut 2 pieces of 5x5 in. fabric squares
2. Put right sides together
3. Sew all the way around all 4 sides, leaving an inch-wide space
4. Turn right side out, stuff, poking out corners (can use a chopstick for this)
5. Tuck ribbon in space, top stitch it into place



(3) Pillow cover^
So as you can see above, I needed to "girl-ize" the nursery a bit. First thing, sewing a cover for this pretty blue pillow which resides in that room.
Tutorial* (see below)

(4) Tote bag/Ballet bag^~ I told you these would be super simple, and this one definitely is!

1. Fabric 18 1/2 x 13 1/2 (folded on the bottom, total length is 37 in.)
2. Hem the top pieces of your bag 3/4 of an inch (iron down first)
3. Pin and sew the ribbon on, as shown, inside the bag on each side- about 2 inches down, inside
4. Put right sides together and sew the sides
5. You will not have to sew the bottom, because you are using a folded piece of fabric
6. Turn right side out and you are done!

I've loved making drawstring bags for loose socks and traveling miscellany, but I think tote bags are so cute, and wanted to learn how to make them. I found a couple of tutorials online, and I'm so glad I tried my hand at this, because this is definitely a project that is cute + easy.
Just a quick note on this: I  followed a sewing tutorial that I found online for a bag sort of a lot like this one.  I shortened the straps for my version, and obviously made it a little smaller. <3

See? I told you these would be super simple. Next stop: Annabel's baby quilt and a baby book for her! (Will probably be just pictures... we shall see what memories I can conjur!;)

Don't forget to follow me on FB Pinterest and Twitter to stay current on all of the latest.



Also, P.S.

My favorite sewing blogs:

Flossie Teacakes

Anna Maria Horner

Cluck Cluck Sew

My favorite sewing Youtube channels: (I feel like Youtube is a rabbit hole with *so many* poorly done channels! When it comes to sewing?) I keep looking for someone who makes simple, clear tutorials with good directions and so far I only have one~ fortunately she is good- I love her!;).

---->Melanie Ham~ I heart stitching
*She has an excellent tutorial for a pillow cover that I won't try to reproduce here! ;)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk and Welcome Home Wednesdays

Friday, September 16, 2016

An Update + Fall Around These Parts (7QT)

happy Fall!

I didn't mean to take a week off from blogging, but I have been really busy with life, and doing some personal projects! I'm making up for it by joining the other quick takers today at Kelly's!

I'm hoping and planning to write a whole post about the projects I've been working on, but for now, I'll just give you a little recap of what we've been up to.
I love Fall-- all things Pumpkin Spice lattes, shopping thrift stores for decor, and popping into a fabric store for inspiration this time of year. I finally bit the bullet and bought another sewing machine- a Brother (brand) sewing machine. I decided I couldn't really live without one, so here's to making this one last.

We also got out the juicer again, and I've been making all kinds of juice. Pictured is one of my faves: peach, apple-carrot, and celery juice. So delicious and fresh-tasting. And it's like a shot of vitamins to your system, so it makes you feel amazing. This recipe above- with or without the celery- is so sweet-tasting. My kids love it. The pear was super sweet and added a nice touch! Will definitely be making it again. (Stephen bought the juicer before we were married, but we've gotten it out and used it a bunch over the years!!!)

Another aspiration I had was to take my kids out for Mother-Daughter and Mother-Son dates. So many fun places to visit around our town! :-) Molly and I got some hot chocolate and a croissant at Niedlov's bakery. Frances and I checked out the cupcake shop downtown. Madeleine wanted to visit the same place. My diet is going well. Cough cough. Sort of. (I have lost 5 pounds).
yogurt feeder + yogurt eater

We've been busy with Ballet lessons, homework, story time, and driving carpool. Oh, and the girls beg me on the daily for playdates, so occasionally I oblige. Fall is busy, but I actually really like it overall. I finally got a regular babysitter, who is replacing the amazing babysitter we had who moved back to her hometown Nashville. The crisp cool mornings, the promise of October, hot coffee on the cool porch, a moment to myself to just breathe, and all of that. Jazz.
boy toy heaven

Random but fun take: Have you guys heard of Maurices? I'm sure you probably have. It's a clothing store, and they're almost everywhere. We have it in our Mall, and I think it is my new favorite place to find clothes as a 33- year-old mother. I have an affinity for finding non-dressy clothes for myself and my kids at Consignment stores and even Goodwill. Pajamas, t-shirts, etc. But  as for the days when you want to look put together? I've been through Gap, and Banana Republic phases, my bridesmaid dresses were from Ann Taylor, and a little Anthro phase. I did find some cute pajamas on sale at Anthropologie in August- but if you have similar style to me, based on those stores, but want to go a tiny bit more trendy, go check out Maurices!;) Here's an outfit that's true to their style: peasant blouse, fun jacket, and jeggings. Also see their shoes. So cute. A cardigan that fits and looks nice and is actually budget friendly? (unlike here) That is my style.

Other than that, it has just been the normal routine! We are putting down the ruler -- after Ballet, no more extracurricular activities this year!!!!! Whenever the kids get complain-y and cranky after school, we make homemade popcorn, and then we make art. It seems to help. Here's something fun: an acquaintance of mine has a really cool Youtube channel, where she does quality Art Lesson videos. You should check it out, most especially if you're trying to homeschool! ;) Let's help her grow-- she deserves it! I've already done a couple of her lessons with my kids, and a friend of mine also recommended her on instagram. That's where I got the idea to try it. She also has a really fun instagram account. ;)

And Madeleine likes playing baby. :0) These girls are seriously the sweetest big sisters. Yes to the true confessions of sibling fights, but also yes to the sweetness of having girls. #somuchfun
As always, when I am MIA, you can find me on instagram (probably my favorite social media handle right now! ;) See you there, friends!! :0)
favorite instagram from the past three weeks or so

linking up with Kelly at 7 Quick Takes! :0)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Worrying About Appearances: Is It Glorifying to God?

I think we've all wondered it. Should I take time off from Facebook or Instagram? Is this going to my head? Should I snail-mail it for my next birth announcement to my fifty aunts and cousins? Am I addicted to flattery, or worse, am I mucking around in vainglory?

And the ultimate question, of course, is:

Is it glorifying to God to show off our cute outfits?

Sometimes I wonder this question aloud to myself while reading fashion -and all sorts of other- blogs. We now have a culture in the blogging world (maybe a subculture? Call it what you will...) of link-ups, where in many cases, the primary purpose is to show off a flattering outfit.

I think that fashion is a fun thing. It can be fun to find something flattering and hip, to boot. 

BUT. Yes there is a but. ;) But vainglory is hypocrisy, and no I do not think it is glorifying to God (at all).

Stop whatever you are doing {STOP}, and go watch this TED talk by Lizzie Velasquez. Do you know who Lizzie Velasquez is? She has a condition, or syndrome, where she is unable to gain weight. When she talks about her parents' love, you will feel a deep sense of gratitude. When you hear her story from the first day of Kindergarten, you might cry or cringe. When you hear how she has been bullied over the years, you might for sure cry.* When you hear what keeps her going, you will certainly be inspired.

I think what this TED talk helps me to remember above all is this: We need to stop putting so much weight and worth in our appearance. We need to fill less brain space with "what should I wear," and more with "how can I serve God and others today?"  When something becomes an idol (and anything can), it becomes a god in our life.  Looking cute to others, and worrying about our appearance, quickly turns into idolatry, because it is made up of the stuff of comparison. And more importantly, we are HUMAN SOULS. Those with Downs, or Zika, or cleft palate, birth defects, or a syndrome making it impossible to gain weight, I'm sure have particularly beautiful souls, in the eyes of God. God loves these souls he created!!!!!

Maybe this starts to happen when we spend too much time at the Mall. Who knows. But when we start to compare ourselves to others- what kind of house do they have, what kind of shoes do they wear, what kind of clothes are their kids wearing (???), our thoughts and our hearts aren't glorifying God any more. We are overtaken by envy, by pride, and by a lack of self-control. When I hear bloggers say, "Take a look at X blogger, she is way cuter than me!" I have a HUGE pity party for that person, because she is DOWNRIGHT WRONG.  First off, maybe get a cuter outfit or shirt and stope comparing. Shed a few pounds??? (if we are talking shallow?!) Don't say she's cuter, etc. Stop envying other people their cute figure, their cute appearance, their cute shoes, and think of Lizzie.  Think of what she said about the first day of Kindergarten. She said, "I'm a cool kid. That person is really missing out."

We need to remember that while in our minds, appearance might seem to be the crucial, the most important thing in the world (Blame it on all of those Disney princesses), a lot of people are struggling with their weight, or with money, or with jealousy of another blogger who seems to have it all together.  And it is a deeply serious issue. That's all based on appearances. What is really important?


Are you perpetuating these things? If not, then you need to take a very LONG look in the mirror. You need to ask yourself some very HARD questions.

Don't you think that, upon contemplation, it is good that we have people like Lizzie to remind us of what truly matters? And at the end of the day, isn't it love? I think it reminds us of the kind of love her parents showed her; the kind of love that is unconditional. She is talking about acceptance at school, and issues like that. But I'm talking about even more serious problems, like marital issues. We have had our share of struggles, and let me tell you: the war against sin is a real battle. When you heard the words of Scripture, "He has clothed me with the garment of salvation," make sure that that is what you're clothed with and are clothing yourself with. If it is vanity, that will not produce good fruit.  If it is humility, then we can share something. If it is not, then we cannot. We need COMMUNITY, not jealousy; we need generosity, not selfishness; we don't need shows about dresses- we need shows not about dresses. ;)

*Someone posted a picture of her online and called her "The ugliest person alive," and just like that, as if she were not a real, actual human being, someone commented and said, "Put a gun to your head, and shoot yourself." Now, I want you to look in the mirror. If you had a baby with a syndrome, would you put a gun to that baby's head and shoot?  She is a person. A beautiful human being with an eternal soul that, as far as I know, belongs to God. There is never any excuse whatsoever for murdering that which is precious and created by our Creator.

And if you don't believe in a Creator, or if you do  and you believe abortion is OK, consider how you deface his Holiness by believing it is OK to murder the unborn, no matter their health.  If anything, consider that that baby could be adopted and loved by a Christian family. There is never an excuse to murder the unborn. If you met Lizzie on the street, what kind of person would you be? Would you extend a gracious hand? Would you cross on the other side of the street?! Ask yourself. Now. ~end sermonLOL~

for further reading:
~Visit Focus on the Family. I did a search for Divorce, Infidelity, and Recovery, and many helpful articles came up, and you can read the titles of those articles here: Divorce and Infidelity
~Very important: When You Should Confront Someone About Their Sin? By John Piper on Biblical Confrontation and grounds for it (although not Catholic, he is very, very strong Christian and he is gifted at articulating this type of subject well)
~and finally, also very. very important: The Problem Isn't Invalid Marriages, It's.... 

What is most important? I'll let *you* answer that question. Fill in the blank.

linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, September 2, 2016

They Grow Up Too Fast

As I was going through old posts, I took a stroll down memory lane, as I came across a couple of pictures of me when I was pregnant with Annabel.

It has been hard, but also fun this first year.  Hard, because I'll admit it has been a bit of a fog. I've been going through old pictures, and it has just made me happy.   And thankful.

Pregnant with Annabel

Baby Annabel- 1 month old

Baby Girl~ sweetie
"ever since the day you put my heart in motion..."

sweet sisters

this warm and sweet one will turn one tomorrow! *sniff*

a few more from memory lane....

Last year at Halloween

Halloween '15
Frances and Madeleine ~
almost exactly one year ago~ They look so little to me. In just a year, Frances' cheeks have thinned out and she looks so much taller to me now.
When we lived in D.C.- Molly was just a toddler, and that's Frances in the ergo!

Frances as a toddler

Easter '16

I just can't believe how time flies. 

Time. Flies. It does.  It seems like overnight we had 5 kiddos although I know that's not true.
You have to lasso the time... which makes me think of this movie quote: "Do you want the moon? just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down..."* That is how it feels to be a Mommy, friends.

And so I bring you...

7 things I would encourage all mothers everywhere to remember,
In honor of the 1st birthday of my 5th child:

1. Keep Perspective
Remember that each week that you live with little kids is another beautiful week to remember and to consider "under your belt." When the days are long, look back at old pictures and consider how special every single week with these little ones is. The cheeks thin out and the legs get long. It can make you wistful and sentimental, if you're anything like me. And it will inevitably make a wiser Mom out of you, when bumps, bruises, burns, and teeth make you feel crazy.

2. Choose Thankfulness
Whenever I'm struggling with my self-love (or lack thereof), such as weight issues or just generally being dissatisfied when I look in the mirror, I try to list off in my head as many things as I can that make me thankful. Did I make blueberry muffins with fresh, juicy berries this morning? I can thank God for that.Did I right a wrong- such as, did I apologize for anger with a stack of freshly folded laundry and a cupcake-date with one child? I think the thing here is to embrace reality and the present, because sometimes life is so hard, we would rather escape the big changes and the difficult struggles for right against wrong. Choose thankfulness for the things in life that are going well. And try to align your life to the standards of your heart, rather than the physical.

3.  Do things for yourself, but don't let those things become an idol.
I love to do adult coloring books, I love podcasts, I love walks, I love reading. But at any point when these things have become an idol, I have had to take a break from them and, GET SOME PERSPECTIVE!!! Even though it is a good habit, even exercise can become an idol. It can make us feel better and superior,  or we can be carving out too much time for it, and ultimately these feelings of pride crash and burn into self-loathing, and we all know that's no good. You've got to find your self-worth in Christ.

4. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Enjoy it/them.
On the hard days, hug a little closer, snuggle a little tighter. Have a tickle fest.  Enjoying your kids is another way to enjoy motherhood. Jot down some specific things you love about each child. Write memories in a journal. (Do it!) As you would wish someone would send your child a card or little gift, send a card or gift your your niece, nephew, granddaughter, grandson. Enjoy and appreciate the little ones, for they keep our world going 'round.

5. Don't rush it.
Time flies. You look at your watch, and the hour drags, but I'm telling you, the week will fly. Fill your calendar to overflowing like I do, and the month will fly as well. Busyness may not be your cup of tea. If not, - I've always said that there's nothing a little bluegrass music can't cure. Cheerfulness a la some Indigo Girls or Nickel Creek can be a salve to a wound on a very bad day. To all of you in the trenches of motherhood: take heart! Your job as a mother is important as all get out. Keep doing what you do.

6. Get Support

I just recently started counseling again, after my former counselor moved out of town, about 6 months ago.  You guys, I can't begin to describe how helpful this has been for my spirit. My counselor is cheerful and a strong Christian, and talking to her always puts my feelings and fears in perspective. It is comforting to talk with someone who has studied and has a ton of wisdom - in the specific areas in which most people struggle- in a snug and cute little office. It is actually kind of fun! And cathartic! I can dump on someone, so I don't feel the need to a) dump on friends or family and b) carry those bad feelings around with me.

7. Don't Compare

When looking at old pictures, it's easy to think thoughts like, "Life was better then," or "life was easier," or "I didn't have the cares that I have now." We all know it, but it serves as a good reminder that those wistful thoughts of times past are nice, but never really based in reality! Things were just as hard then as they are now. (Maybe for different reasons). And reading blogs, or scrolling insta, where other people appear beautiful or charming, can also be a violent tournament of emotions warring in our minds and hearts, if we are tempted to compare our shitty lives with a false version of reality! So don't!

Finally: Dweej/Dwija from House Unseen (awesome instagram account!) has some amazing advice for you right here so do go check that out before you forget. ;)
Happy Friday!!!! :-)

And remember: we are all in this together. And at the end of the day, there is nothing more fulfilling.

*name that movie
if you missed it, I also published my monthly recap this week and you can read it here


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 2016~ Surprise! I am No Longer Literate:-)

This picture represents vacation and rest to me, which is what Summer is and should! be about, although we never actually did the beach this month. 

And with that, holy crap, August. You kicked my butt. If you saw my planner, you would give me a sympathy pat on the back. ;) At any rate, this post will be long so consider yourself warned. ;)

We started it off right by escaping to a cabin in the North Woods of Wisconsin, at a wonderfully fun Family Reunion. I got the kids ready for school- running all of the errands and buying all of the shoes/socks, and getting all of the haircuts (4 kids so far, one is baby so no need for a haircut yet), suffering through 2- hour long doctors' appointments to make sure all 5 of my kids are healthy and immunized, and cleaning out my car. Amidst tears of stress and hugs of consolation, I took purposeful and intentional break from reading so much this month, as well.

I bought Bossypants by Tina Fey, and read it on the plane to Minnesota/Wisconsin.
Similar to Mindy Kaling's book, the humor was spot on, but the lifestyle left some things to be desired. Anyone who has seen either of her most popular shows (30 Rock or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) probably will not be in the least surprised by this declaration.

I stopped reading after that. That was the big surprise (#sorrynotsorry) and I'm assuming the fact that I've not read a book these remaining three weeks makes me no longer literate. It was not only good to be a little more present, it was advantageous that I chose to buy the Kindle version of The Nightingale by  Kristin Hannah because I a) hate reading extremely large and long books via Kindle because 5% of 488 is the number notfun.  And b) because I found it to be incredibly boring and slogging through said book just wasn't on my agenda.;) Her other books are UNDERRATED (ask me about this sometime). So these things further helped my reading break plot come to fruition. Now, that said, I admit I might be in the market for my third Moriarty book at long last. I'm looking for something I cannot put down, along the lines of What Alice Forgot. If anyone can school me, I need the second best book by L.M., because The Husband's Secret was too gritty for my taste. W.A.F. was by all accounts awesome from this front.

My goals for this month were pretty simple:

~Get the kids ready for school
~Enjoy our trip up North
~Get myself ready for Fall
~Keep the house in reasonably clean condition
~Get some (sewing) projects done or at least planned
~Actually budget
~Eat well
~And of course, Get fresh air 
(and maybe do that instead of reading and TV, since we all know cooler weather is coming, on its way, and for some parts of our country, has already arrived;)

I feel like reading is a great hobby, but sometimes it feels like it is taking over my life and I am unable to set boundaries, because something like 40% of finances are going to my reading habit. I have so many reasons for reading, but when it becomes an idol, it is time for me to take a break. I don't get free books and I read for pleasure mostly, and I also have a (somewhat bad) habit of buying new books that I want to have on my shelf. I could save money by purchasing the Kindle version, but I'm so taken by the beautiful books with pretty covers at the bookstores. 
#tbt to living in D.C,when Molly and Frances looked a little like Madeleine and Annabel! 

I really, really wanted to get some sewing projects under my belt. However, my sewing machine bit the dust about 6 months- 1 year ago, and I just haven't had the time, money, or space to buy a new one and start stitching again. I used to get a lot done, although it never seemed like enough, and once I had done one project, it seemed I needed to move onto something new, and I never found my groove. I need to do one thing several times over until it is my thing, rather than starting on a new and different project every time. For me, that is the danger of Pinterest. #neverdone #neverenough

So... will Tacy buy a sewing machine in September, or will all of her funds go toward Fall clothes, food, kids, and the occasional book?! Stick around these parts to find out. ;) ;) ;)

I loved the layout, concept, and execution of this post! ;)

An Open Letter to Mindy Kaling @ We, A Great Parade
So much good food for thought. Def. worth reading.

The ABC's of a Pregnancy @ The Ugly Volvo
I have loved this blog for some time now. I am almost always laughing out loud when I click over and read her posts!

Why We Love Notebooking @ Royal Little Lambs 
I think this post would be good for homeschoolers/homeschooling Moms

Again, I am not a homeschooler, but I think this post would be helpful for my friends on the internet and in real life (IRL) who do!

 Watch as these men get a pizza delivered via drone~A landmark day for drone flights arrives @ CNN

~Funny Things They Say~

Anders: (I overhear him talking in the back seat) Is that a motorcycle? Yeah-ya! Is it real? Yeah-ya! Does it goes real fast? Yeah-ya!

Grey (my nephew) in Minnesota: I spy wif my wittle eye somefing... green! (answering his own question) Is it the sign? ...No! ....Is it the grass? (with all the enthusiasm in the world) Y-ES! ....Mommy, step on it!

--so cute!--
The kids have a little song at school with a line in it that goes, “Don’t you have a GPS?” So Madeleine asked me one day, “Mommy, what’s a GPS? Can I have one?” 
So I told her, “A  GPS is something you have in your car, that helps you know where you are, and which way to go.” 
“I want to know where we are going!! Can you get me one of those? I don’t want a map, I want a GPS. Can you give me one in the morning?”

Madeleine: (trying a cream sample, looks down at her hand) My hand skin already looks younger! #hysterical

If you don't like Britney Spears, Rihanna makes you want to barf, and McDonald's is something you try to never eat, then we are automatically on the same page! ;) Also, I really wanted to include some Iron & Wine and Lumineers (new album=solid gold), but you have to draw the line somewhere!

I have to say that I loved the movie My Name is Doris.  Starring Sally Field, it is a movie about an older woman who falls in love with her younger co-worker, a la , the romance novels she reads. I loved Max Greenfield in this movie + I'm trying to explain why I liked him in the film/ for this role. I think it is because the believability in his acting pushes the premise of this film into a plausible scenario that is worth sticking around for. Also, I think if you start to watch it and it doesn't suck you in (which would surprise me), rewatch. There are so many subtleties and especially, subtle jokes. My favorite favorite favorite Indian actor Kumail Nanjiani from Portlandia is in it, so... nuf said. #sofunny I did watch it about twice myself (I started it and watched half of the movie on a plane, then watched it again from beginning to end when we got back). Roger Ebert said, "This film will have you at 'hello.'" 
also re-watching this:0)

Onward: to music and playlists and nostalgia galore.

Milestone Music:
I'm a music person, and Music has played a huge role in my entire life, especially since I was in high school. I really wanted a place where I could compile all of those songs that have been special to me over the years for one reason or another. Do you ever have a moment where you hear a song, and you think, "This is the best song ever..."? Well, for me, all of these songs fall into that category in one way or another. Here it is, with notation below.

<<This is my Milestone Music playlist...  Mostly memories from high school and beyond ...>>

1. The Doors ~Hello I Love You - This was big on my playlist in High School. My sister was dating a guy named Rich, and he bought her their CD. We would listen to it together sometimes, and so I have lots of memories of this CD and how influential my sister was on me in big and small ways during that season of life.
2. Lisa Loeb's Stay was an iconic song for me and for most who lived through the nineties.
3. Matthew Sweet~ Girlfriend I started listening to Matthew Sweet (who for the record can play the electric guitar better than just about anyone) in High School, and this song was a special part of coming-of-age for me.
4. The Cranberries~ Dreams was an anthem- maybe THE anthem- of my Senior year of High School
5.  Toad the Wet Sprocket~ Walk On The Ocean I have to include a Toad song, because I overplayed their album all through High School and College. I love this lyric from the song: "We don't even have pictures, just memories to hold.That grow sweeter each season as we slowly grow old."
6.Coldplay~ Yellow is a quintessential get-over-your-high-school-boyfriend song for me.
7. Stars~ Calendar Girl brings back memories of friends, mixed CD's and tapes, and more friends. This song is so good- take a listen for sure.
8. Ben Folds~ The Ascent of Stan -I started heavily crushing on Ben Folds in college and probably made him rich with the amount of concerts I went to. This song, for me, is a memory like solid gold in my mind: listening on headphones, walking on the beach in Santa Barbara, dreaming of times to come.
9. The Cure was a theme song that I still can't quit-- still so good.
10. Sufjan Stevens~ Seven Swans -Have to include a Sufjan song, because I listened so hard to this album on choir tour in college.
11. Rusted Root~ Send me on my way- the best break-up song in the world.
12. The Smiths~ Please, please, please let me get what I want- holds a deep place in my heart and I was so thrilled to learn Stephen liked them when we first started dating.
13. Patti Griffin~ Making Pies-Belting Patti Griffin songs at Westmont College- the end.
14. Dashboard Confessional~ Screaming Infidelities-Also, this song. Memories of my college roommate Mer from Fresh/Soph year.
15. Pedro the Lion~ Foregone Conclusions was one of those catch-22 "How cool can you be and still act original" songs from college. #laughcry (saw him in concert as well)
16. Over the Rhine~ The World Can Wait represents for me the year I took off from college. I went to study at L'abri among other places. Also saw them perform live multiple times (I think 3) and yeah the best band ever in the world #superlativewarranted
17. The Isaacs~ Daniel Prayed holds a special place in my heart from times of singing bluegrass with my family (and my Dad who is a great guitar and mandolin player)
18. Brandi Carlile~ Have You Ever is my Covenant song and makes me think of all of my friends on my Hall, Fifth North. Introduced to me by my roommate Keri.
19. Nickel Creek~ When You Come Back Down- One of my all-time favorite songs from Nickel Creek, and such a good memory of seeing them live in college.
20. Renee & Jeremy~ Powder Blue I have sung this as a lullaby to all of my kiddos, and it holds special memories for me of becoming a mother, and Memories of Molly as a baby.
21. Renee & Jeremy~ Night Manta- the perfect lullaby/ Same as 20. Their album "It's A Big World" is excellent when it comes to kids' music- very soothing.
22. Nick Cave~ Into My Arms  is my "becoming Catholic" song, because it is mentioned in the book Love & Salt, (such a good book!) and it holds deep significance and deep truth. This haunting melody totally feels "becoming Catholic," and what it was like to live through that, in my brain.
23. Death Cab for Cutie~ Information Travels Faster - Had to include a Death Cab for Cutie song because they have been loved deeply, as long as they have ben around and I have seen them live.
24. Stevie Wonder~ Isn't She Lovely makes me think of the kids' school, my sweet Molly Jane growing up, Because of Molly's lip-synching to this for a performance at school. #allthefeels
25. Bread~ Look What You've Done makes me think of Stephen and it is sexy (hate to use that word but it is) and also makes me laugh at the double meaning #sorrynotsorry
26. The Cure~ Friday I'm in Love is one of my lifelong anthems and I think one of my all-time favorite songs.
27. Soul  Meets Body by Death Cab for Cutie-- just soooooooo good. I overplayed this song post-college, and will never forget hearing it over my speakers and feeling more alive than ever before. #nevertiredofit #bestthingaboutmusic

Me & Stephen Music:

Once again, I wanted to put all of those special songs in one place.

1. Explosions in the Sky~ Your Hand in Mine ~Stephen put this on a mixed CD for me when we were dating.
2. Snow Patrol~ Chasing Cars- Stephen also introduced me to this band and this song, and it always and forever makes me think of him and our early years of young love.
3. Mew~ Special We both fell HARD for Mew and this is probably "our song" more than any other. If you haven't heard of or listened to Mew, welcome to your new favorite song/band.
4. Band of Horse~ No One's Gonna Love You This song makes me think of Stephen, although at the time of me liking this song, we were going through some really hard times. Now, it just makes me cry with thankfulness at all we've been through. And we've come out sane/clean/something/what?
5. Mipso~ Love Again -Stephen may not know it, but this song is important to me, because I listened to it during a time when we were going through hard times, and it reminded me of how deeply I love him
6. Pinback~ Loro- We went to see a Pinback concert and MAN was it redemption for some of my lost-loves from High School and college. I will *never* forget sitting in the balcony of that theatre in Atlanta, sipping Yuengling, and falling in love with Stephen.
7. James Vincent McMorrow~ Rising Water makes me think of all the baths we've given our kids in these early years of parenting young ones. I think this song will forever make me think of these days.
8. Carry On, because, life is hard and marriage is hard, and you've just got to Carry On some days.
9. Just Like Heaven by The Cure - because this band is just so good, and all marriages need this song. I think sometimes we think that we live, we die, and that's about it. But it's not true. Life is full of pleasures, heartache, and trials that feel insurmountable. But sometimes the crap of life is utterly buried by our love. Our love is just like heaven, which contrasts to the suffering and pain of life, and that's a (major) understatement. I don't know how to articulate it.

We've had a lot of bumps in the road. I would be lying if I said that having 5 kids in 8 years has been easy. We have struggled immensely, though we always come back to each other in deep ways and in simple ways.  I know we have shared much more than just these nine songs, but some of them are private, and some of them I just can't think of right now!!! Music is a place where we will always connect deeply and I know it is one of the reasons we fell in love.
linking up here & here

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dear Beatles: It *Isn't* "Easy"

As you can read on, this iconic song, "All you need is love," by the Beatles, starts out by saying just that, "Love, love, love... all you need is love..." And if you know the song, (which I'm sure all of you do), you might also know that the most oft-repeated phrase in the song, which serves as a transition into every chorus are the words, "It's easy!"

As I was listening to this song playing on - a hesitant to call it - mediocre television show my kids were watching (wouldn't want that label applied to me, that's all), I thought to myself, "Beatles, you are oh so wrong."  And then, laughably, I thought, "And The Beatles probably were not Catholic." Astute observations by tacy.... Of course then I googled it, but that's another story. ;)

Because in my experience, love is not easy. In fact, love is anything but that.  I would say that, if anything, love is work. Love is sacrifice. Love is rooted in faith and prayer, and the practice of love is a demand on my heart and on my soul each day, and I can safely say that it is a true struggle.  No, love is not easy. Why?

* Love isn't easy, because Love is work.

1 Corinthians 13 gives us a good definition of love, but boy, it isn't simple and it certainly doesn't sound easy to follow those rules all the time. Love IS patient, and kind, Love is NOT envy, boasting, prideful, rude, easily angered, or self seeking. Love seeks no record of wrongs, always protects, hopes, trusts, perseveres, never fails.

And perhaps my favorite line from those verses: "Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth." Quick to judge someone who cuts you off in traffic? If you knew the truth (they are late for a doctor's appointment for a rare disease, and they hit you from behind-- true story, happened to me in NYC traffic), perhaps you wouldn't be so quick to judge.

*Love isn't easy, because Love is sacrifice.

Love was demonstrated to us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  What does this verse mean? It means that his demonstration of love teaches us about what love is. I'm pretty sure the culture of the Beatles was free love, no war, and mutual respect. As they bob their heads and sing (see above video), it sure sounds and looks easy! But what about this policy of love teaches the true wisdom of Biblical love? It sounds pretty selfish to me. And extremely impractical. And it has nothing to do with being a stay-at-home Mom to five kids, where free love has no place.
 What kind of example would that set for them?

*Love isn't easy, because Love is rooted in faith and prayer.

Ora et labora  {prayer and work} are the tenets of our love.  We can lay down our own intentions to find the path of love by praying for God's wisdom everyday.   Communication with God,  lends itself to helpful communication with others. I'm pretty sure that if we don't talk through things with our spouse, jealousy or laziness will win the day.  We need the wisdom and humility that comes from prayer, so that we know how to work through our problems, and find conflict resolution, on a daily basis.

All in all, it is a struggle, and sometimes it's a war against flesh and evil. The fruit of faith is that God does give us guidance when we do in fact pray for wisdom.  As I have prayed for wisdom in this day and age, and in our culture today, I have found these words to be of utmost importance and assistance: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want."  And yet, love does not flow freely when there are so many tasks each day that beg to be done.  The iggling thought worms its way into our minds:

Oh, but if I were younger.
Oh, but if I were a supermodel.
Oh, but if were Paul, John, Ringo, George.

Then, love might be easy!

Or maybe if I could improve my conditions in some other way, then love would be easy.

Perhaps by becoming a saint, one could make love "easy," or an easy thing.

Perhaps if all of my meals were microwave ready, then love would come easy.

Perhaps if I had the things the television advertises- the right materials, the right clothes, the right hair, then love would come easy.

But deep down in my heart, I know that I can't cover a blistering wound with platitudes. A new day that I cannot and will not plaster the envy with false kindness. It is a new chance to practice loving as I practice the presence of God.  It is not a day to master the skill. It is simply another day filled with momentary opportunities to lay down my plans, to sacrifice my will, to let God's Spirit fill me with the motions, with the right words, with the hard work that I must go through in order to follow his Divine will. Only in this - ONLY IN THIS- can true love be witnessed.

It isn't easy. Everyday, I'm challenged by His will and my fiercely independent spirit that wants to deny the broken disposal, or the littered living room, or the trash that builds and overflows and needs to be taken out. My patients is on a slow boil, and truly, if I do not communicate well with those around me, I will lose the path to loving, in the heat of one impatient moment after another. But there is an elevator to the path of love, as St. Therese said, and it is to follow God's will, or "the littlest way." And I'm pretty sure being little is akin to being like a child. So we can start there. ;)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk