Archives for November 2012

Five Minute Friday: Wonder

This week is the the final Five Minute Friday for the year, and I have so enjoyed spending every week with Lisa-Jo and the Five Minute crowd. I look forward to this one day a week where I give up searching for perfection and simply write for the love of words. I always find it harder than I expected and equally rewarding. As always, thanks for stopping by, for making these Fridays a joy. I plan to blog through the holiday season, in a desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of sanity. Come again soon.


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Wonder

I know the feeling, this one of mystery, of miracle, and maybe even a little bit of magic thrown in too. I grew up in a family of down to earth realists, a family that avoided myth and magic in favor of fact. I didn’t believe in Santa Claus. I never watched a Disney film. I never read myth. Much of the mystery of this time of year lay abandoned at the feet of  The Facts. 

In growing older, raising children, and finding my feet in faith, I learned to hold on to wonder. To reach for everyday magic. I had to say, this faith of mine is more than fact. It is mystery wrapped in a makeshift blanket, lying in a manger. It is God incarnate, a Savior indwelling, Emmanuel. Over time, it grows in wonder and so do I.


This weekend I plan to enjoy the wonder of a German Christmas market, which basically means I plan to stuff my face with sugared crepes and feed my soul a steady diet of Christmas carols and ancient churches adorned in lights. As always, I try to post a few photos on twitter when my hands are crepe free. If you care to follow along, you can find me here @KimberlyACoyle.

Owning time


I logged in to WordPress today, only to discover yesterday’s post was my 600th post on this blog. I feel this deserves an exclamation point, however the powers that be discourage writers from using such overwrought expressions of delight. So, I shall refrain from the exclamation, however I will add one or five in my head. I find few things in life capable of keeping my attention and my participation for this length of time, so I consider this a huge victory for quitters everywhere. Something finally stuck. Exclamation point.

Aside from congratulating myself, I wanted to start today with the phrase “This time of year…” because I find all sorts of conundrums and emotional issues surface during the holiday season.

This time of year, my schedule gets hijacked.

Class parties, recitals, one last coffee before the school break, final projects, list making, gift purchasing–these all combine to create a weekly schedule that leaves little time for the things I need or desire to do. I manage to corral my family into showing up where and when they should with mostly clean clothes and somewhat full bellies, but I don’t always manage to surrender to the holiday schedule with grace. CS Lewis calls this “a sense of ownership-in-Time”. I believe my time is my own, that I am the “lawful possessor of twenty-four hours”, and woe to the people who mess with this flawed belief. I find myself crying over having to write in the margins of my day. I grow frustrated when an issue pops up and needs immediate resolution, or I snap at my children when they ask me what’s for dinner. Dinner is whatever I can scrounge from the almost empty fridge before we need to leave the house again this evening, I say in a huff.

My daughter confronts my possessive attitude when she says, I know you like taking care of us, but you don’t really like doing the laundry. Or cooking. Or cleaning up. And after I pull the dagger from my heart, I realize she believes this because I treat these duties as if they are an interruption to my day, an interruption to the time I could spend doing something more interesting than treating a spaghetti sauce stain on her white t-shirt. Can I tell you this wound hurts? No mother wants their child to believe caring for her is another chore to tick off the list, another thing to do before Mom gets to sit down and open the laptop. My own attitude offends me, not to mention my children.

I do not own my time, I am merely a steward of it. If one kid starts going off the rails and I need to squeeze in a chat with a teacher? Steward my time. When another child wants to attend one last dance rehearsal, but it wreaks havoc on my previous plans? Steward my time. When friends want to meet for one final coffee before we all go our separate holiday ways? Steward my time. With grace, with love, with the full knowledge I will wish for these opportunities and moments back after the children move on.

This time of year, twenty-four hours doesn’t seem like enough. But when I stop grasping and start giving, twenty-four hours becomes a gift and not a burden.

Do you struggle with this too? How do you manage your time over the holidays? I’m all ears.

Lists and links

Every so often, I like to throw a few links out to the various websites, gifts, books, etc. that catch my eye or ear. Maybe you’ll find something here to fill in an empty spot on your Christmas wish list? My wish list consists of the intangible goods, like little people doing what they’re told the first time, big people picking up their own underpants, and if I could get the dog to wipe his own feet when he enters the house? I’d consider it the trifecta of all things good and right in this world.

For the Book Lover: Tinkers by Paul Harding. Oh. my. His use of language literally brought me to tears. Beautifully written.

For Little Book Lovers: A guide to gifting great books by Modern Mrs. Darcy.

For the Film Fan: In anticipation of the release of The Hobbit this Christmas, we introduced the older kids to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I love it even more the second time around.

For the Music Lover: Josh Garrels. Have you heard him? My favorite find of the year, hands down. I listened to his Love and War and the Sea in Between on a long, foggy run in the forest and it was magic and mystery and the thinnest place I’ve been in a long time.

For the Blog Builder: Need a little (or a lot) of work done on your blog? Working with Viva la Violette was a gift wrapped in a lovely HTML package.

For the anti-Martha: Cara Sexton finally says what the rest of us box-mix brownie girls are thinking.

For the Wannabe Poet: Everyday Poems delivered straight to your inbox by Tweetspeak Poetry. I’ve been a subscriber for some time, and I love poetry arriving to liven up the mundane.

For the Parent: I find cultivating an attitude of gratitude vs. entitlement in my children a real struggle this time of year. Ann Voskamp for The High Calling gives us 15 Happy ways to Grateful, Joy-filled kids. And who doesn’t want more of that in their family life?

What’s on your must-see/read/do list this season?

When the trip of a lifetime turns into the trip you make every year


We called it The trip of a lifetime whenever anyone asked. No, we won’t return home for Christmas. We’re going on the trip of a lifetime. We planned and booked and pre-paid and talked it up so much, one might think a trip to South Africa sat on a par with the Second Coming. Our time here is short, we said. We meant to fulfill one last dream vacation before moving back to America next June.

My husband arrived home a few days ago and he said “We need to talk” and he didn’t say it in a way that made me think a date night or a new pair of shoes lie in my immediate future. In the evening, he sat down on the long end of the sofa, and I on the short, and he told me he thought we needed to cancel our African adventure.

He had good reasons, sound reasons, and so we canceled the trip of a lifetime plans and began making new ones. The new plans will involve family and friends and gift cards to the local mall. They will include lots of back and forth in the minivan, into the wilds of suburban America, where we will hang out with wild little monkeys who happen to be related to us in the very best non-Darwinian way. And while we won’t explore the beauty of the African plains, we will explore the beauty of what it means to tend to our roots, to see them grow deeper into the soil by honoring tradition and one another.

I haven’t been one to tend to roots. I leave people and places behind easily, and I cut away at anything I fear may reach out and entangle me. For a long time, I believed roots held me back–kept me bound to a small life. But, as my children grow older, I feel the deeper needs pulsing and drumming below the surface of my skin, beating out a call to return home. I see that roots don’t have to act as a snare, rather they give support to the life that springs up above the surface. They provide hidden strength and hold us steadfast in the soil, rich with memories, fed with laughter, and watered with tears. I expect we’ll experience some of them all.

The trip of a lifetime can wait. In the meantime, we will learn what it means to truly build a life over time with the people and places and traditions we love. After all, our time here is short.

How do you feel about roots? Do you feel like they hold you back or hold you steady? I’d love your thoughts as I’m learning right along with you.

Five-Minute Friday: Thank you

Another Friday, another five minutes with Lisa-Jo and the Five-Minute Crowd. Thanks for taking the time to awaken from your tryptophanic stupor and stop by this week. This one’s for you!


Today’s Prompt: Thank you

I imagine you sitting in your pajamas debating whether or not to partake in the madness of Black Friday. You wonder if you’ll regret it the way you regret eating three helpings of mashed potatoes at dinner last night. I see you looking online, wondering if you’ll get the same great deals without having to leave your sofa, and I see you stop by here for a moment on your way to Target’s big sale site.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for stopping by week after week, and for your kind words and your emails and your encouragement. You are the best thing about this little corner of cyberspace.

I wanted to feel sorry for myself yesterday, when I read your tweets and your facebook updates and your plans for Thanksgiving. But, I knew we would celebrate today, a day late and about $100 short after buying the most expensive turkey known to man. I will sit around my table tonight, with my small family of five, and I will say thanks for you, for my larger family across the globe. For you Mom and Dad, for you sisters and brothers and cousins. Thanks for you in-real-life friends, and you online ones, too.

I have much to celebrate.