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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Gathering My Thoughts

Outside my window:
It seems the world has not quite woken yet unless you're the Freedom JV basketball team who has practice most days at 6:30 am. (Be near, Lord.) It's getting colder around here. I'm never quite ready for cold and I certainly didn't think I was ready for driving to 6:30 am practice. And yet, I love peeking out at the cold through the branches of the Christmas tree. Our schedule has not allowed us to finish decorating all in one day. It's a process to be completed in stages, but for now I'm perfectly fine with simple green branches, white lights and the blue angel that has been my husband's since he was a child. Maybe 6:30 am practice isn't so bad. All is calm. All is bright.

Listening to:
Coffee brewing and my puppy dog snoring.

Clothing myself in:
Nike running pants, long sleeve Nike shirt under a black tshirt, running shoes. Perhaps the clothes make the runner? I hope so, but so far it sure is cozy and warm inside this house. The clothes might make the reader.

Talking with my children about these books:
Drew and I are still reading Mockingbird together. Joe and I recently discussed this article. To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book of all time. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the first book I read in high school that I remember actually loving. [Thank you, Mrs. Layton. Sophomore English :)] I remember being startled by the use of offensive words and I remember that the use of that language and the teaching of those books in no way taught me that my teachers, my school or the authors were "validating that these words{were} acceptable" as is mentioned in the article. Quite the opposite. I remember that the use of that language taught me specifically how horrific a use of a single word could be and how important it was in teaching me the mistakes of our country's often shameful past. I do not pretend to know what it is to read those words as a person of color. I obviously can only speak to it from the perspective of a 16 year old suburban white girl whose opinion, I guess, would be deemed irrelevant to those discussions. In any case, that girl never once imagined that the authors of those books found that language acceptable. Not for a moment. Of course, we hate for our students to feel uncomfortable. The fact is that those words make us all uncomfortable and they should. Our history is uncomfortable and I'd say if we can't acknowledge that and look it directly in its evil eye, we miss the lessons that move us forward. I'm just so sad that these beautiful stories might be taken away.

In my own reading:
I feel very fancy and important because I have a friend who just finished writing her first book and I was thrilled that she asked me to be one of a group of women who are lucky enough to read it before it goes to publish. I was nervous going in because even though this friend is smart and charming and funny and when I think of her writing a book, I think, "OF COURSE! BEST SELLER! CAN'T WAIT!", the responsibility of holding that binder full of her heart and her sweat and her years of work is a daunting task. I'm so glad to say that the book is really, really good. My friend is really, really talented. I'm really, really smiley about it. :-)

Thinking and thinking:
About calling.

Merriam-Webster defines calling as a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction or divine influence.

My pastor frequently mentions that when our obedience matches God's calling, blessing happens.

Jen Hatmaker reminds us that in many ways the perception of calling is a luxury of the privileged. We get to labor over our "calling" because we are educated and financially stable, so many of us eschew the honor of ordinary work and instead fret over the perception of wasting our lives. You don't have to wait another day to figure out your calling. Your gifts have a place right now, in the job you have, in your stage of life, with the people who surround you.

Sophie Hudson says this: if for some reason, you have convinced yourself that you're not needed any more, that your best days are behind you, that you're not relevant enough to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ - or Heaven forbid, your family - STOP IT. RIGHT NOW. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. Don't you dare discount your importance, your influence, your calling. You are uniquely built to impact others in ways you cannot even imagine. So when you're tempted to back down, to back up, or to back off? YOU STAY IN IT.

Beth Moore says that we get so paralyzed wanting to do something great that we never do any good.

And the incomparable, Ann Voskamp says that God has not called you to awesome. He has called you to humble, faithful, and free. Leave the awesome to Him.

Anyway, all those things have jumped at me lately as I think and think about calling. And oh, am I thinking about it. I'm not concluding anything exactly. Just thinking and thinking.

Carefully cultivating rhythm:
The rhythm of our family is very much dictated by whichever sport is in season. For now, that would be basketball which does normally lend itself to a more set schedule than baseball. Drew has practice twice a week. Kyle has practice six days a week, often in the dark early hours of the morning. I'm filling in the calendar and trying to figure out how I can manage shopping and wrapping and mailing and schlepping to and from practice and games and still enjoy the season. Really, I've seen this movie so many times and I know how it ends. Depleted, exhausted, cranky, and feeling like I screwed the whole thing up. I'm hoping that I can take some time each morning to sit in silence and read from a book called Why this Jubilee? Advent Reflections on Songs of the Season by James C. Howell which was a suggestion of our pastor. I think the only way to get through this season with a sense of peaceful rhythm is to intentionally find times for silence. Howell mentions lines from Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and their "treasury of silence". 

"How still we see thee lie." "The silent stars go by." And then, "How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is giv'n'."

What a shame to run full steam ahead through the advent season elbowing past the wondrous gift?  I am missing so many wondrous gifts. Hoping to bring silence to the rhythm of my days so that I can clear a space in my cluttered heart to receive Him.

Learning lessons in:
Feeling at home. I am absolutely a homebody. The peaceful calm I have always felt when coming home was so real I could almost touch it - even if I'd only been away for a weekend. I didn't feel that peace here for many, many months and I was startled and anxious about the fact that for so long I felt like I was visiting this house or even worse living in a hotel. There have been many nights I have had vivid dreams of walking the path down the stairs of our former home, turning the corner, going to the sink and making coffee in the same space I did for seventeen years. It was disconcerting to me and I prayed for a sense of belonging here. Slowly this space is becoming ours. It's starting to feel warm and comfortable and safe. I notice when I walk in the door that my heart slows a bit. We are really, truly almost home.

Encouraging learning in:
Making your darn bed in the morning? I've been encouraging this for a good 15 years now. The learning curve appears very steep. :-/

Keeping house:
The above would help. While my mom and dad were here we put a lot of our photos and prints up on the wall. It feels more complete now. My kitchen is essentially complete. Of course, there is lighting I'd like to do, a rug here and a pillow there, but the construction is done and I am beside myself with happiness.

In the kitchen:
I'm loving this website. The recipes are really easy and don't use a lot of weird ingredients. The recipes I've made have been hits with all of my people. Score.

To be fit and happy:
I think it's time to mix it up a bit. The only exercise I've done for the past twelve years is running. I'm getting slow and more importantly it's getting cold out there. No bueno. I'm thinking yoga or some other class. I can't let go of running completely because I'm pretty certain that will put me in the looney bin, but it's time to branch out. What fitness classes do you like? Comment please?

Giving thanks:
For the moments when we're all around the table together. It is rare but it does happen. I recognize that these moments are no small things, especially since I know the days are coming when one or two will be away from the table and not because they are simply five minutes away at the high school for a practice. All five of us, together, around the table. Even if brothers are interrupting and ragging on each other and arguing? It is loud. It is exasperating. And it is good. I am grateful.

Loving the moments:
When the view from behind home plate gives way for a bit to the view from the gym bleachers. Last weekend, I even more so loved the moment when my boy remembered that life is more than just about putting a ball through a hoop and a couple of points on a scoreboard. On Sunday Drew and his team played a game at the gym where Gavin Rupp, a local boy who died of cancer in 2013, went to school. If you've read here before you know that Gavin's story made a significant impact on my family and me and pushed me to give much of my time to volunteering in the pediatric cancer community. It also gave me a friendship with his mama that is a true testament of beauty from ashes. Before I could even point out Gavin's #15 on the court, Drew said, "I know. I see". Before the tip I watched him rub his foot along the circle. I watched him score the first two points of the game. I watched his team win by two in the end. I don't know if Gavin helped us. Drew thinks he did. Either way, my boy gains inspiration, perspective and courage from a boy he never knew. That's a moment to love.

Planning for the week:
Hoping to get my Christmas cards out asap so that my friends will have my new address, a basketball game or three, some Christmas cheer with some girlfriends and setting up for the Kyle's Kamp Holiday Store for Kids with Cancer.

Have a great week, friends!

PS Newly revamped prompts stolen from Elizabeth's Gathering My Thoughts posts.

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