Archives for December 2014

Top five posts of 2014

FullSizeRender

On Mondays, I usually write about home and belonging. Because I’m still recovering from the onslaught of merry-making that is Christmas and because my kids will be home for another eight days, I plan to keep it light this week.

Today, let’s recap the top five posts from this, my little place of belonging on the internet. It surprised me to discover four of the five posts relate to parenting. Thanks so much for showing up to read this year. You never fail to surprise me, friends.

Most read posts of 2014:

1. Un-word 2014: Expectations: On giving up a word for the year. I gave up “expectations”, and decided to embrace progress over perfection.

2. A cheering season: When being a mom isn’t enough: For all the cheering we do from the sidelines, sometimes we have seasons where we need to take to the field for a cheering season of our own.

3. The names we call ourselves: When my husband calls me Kim: learning to look back on our former selves with grace.

4. Ten small things that will remain: For all the mamas: When you want to leave a legacy for your kids, but all you have to offer them is yourself. This post is from May 2013, but remains in the top five for the year.

5. Parenting for the faint of heart: Want to quit judging other parents? Take a long hard look in the mirror. War stories for the faint of heart.

Thirsty

bethlehem via kimberlyanncoyle.com

When I wake up in the morning and it’s still dark, I flip open the pages of the Advent books while muffled noises trickle down from upstairs. I missed so many days of readings. So many. And yet, even with my half-hearted attempts at observing Advent, even with all the distractions and busy-busy and partially-read pages, I feel a difference in the air around me. It feels like an air bubble, the kind that offers a small pocket of oxygen when everything around you drowns in jingle bells and dollar bills.

The dog wakes up every morning and heads straight to the tree for a soupçon of pine needle infused water. It makes me laugh every time. His bowl of water goes untouched throughout the day, and he satiates his thirst off the tree which drops needles like crazy. I find them embedded in his fur. I can’t help but think about how thirsty I am for living water to revive these dry bones, how I want to sidle up to the tree shaped like a cross and drink from the cup of salvation over and over again.

I know I’m supposed to think about the baby in the manger this time of year, but when I try to picture him, I see a king. I see a warrior. I see him risen, riding on a horse with his hem dipped in blood. This is the Savior I want to see while the world hurtles towards hell. This is the Savior we need today. This is the Savior we needed in Bethlehem, and yet he came as a child. How unexpected.

I think he still shows up in the unexpected today. He shows up in our hands and feet, if we’re willing. He doesn’t always look like the baby or the warrior king, he looks like you and me, living temples of the Spirit of God. I’m thirsty. I am all dry bones and dehydrated flesh. I want to live like I have the savior of the world  inside of me, so I can offer more than just myself to others, I can offer them a cup of living water.

For unto us a child is born, and the thirsty, weary world rejoices.

…………………….

I plan to take a little time off from the blog this week, unless I decide I shouldn’t for mental health reasons. Writing keeps me sane. So do cookies, which I plan to eat in abundance. What’s one thing keeping you sane this week?

Wishing you and yours a wonderful, life-giving Christmas holiday wherever this week may find you.

When you want to teach them all the lessons

my girl #2 via kimberlyanncoyle.com

They started rolling in half-way through my morning run. I saw them light up my phone screen as I clipped along on the treadmill. The texts came from my daughter who left for school fifteen minutes prior. I glanced over without stopping, and when I read “MOM I FORGOT…SECRET SANTA…GIFT…HELP” I stopped reading and kept running. Despite the ALL CAPS, an emergency on her part did not constitute an emergency on mine. Then she began calling. My cell phone, the house phone, then my cell again. I finally stopped running when she texted MOM PLEASE PICK UP!!! While I admired her persistence, I stopped because I reached the point where my desire to yell at her exceeded my desire to finish my run.

I called her back, all breathy and annoyed, and when she picked up the phone, her voice sounded so small. It reminded me that even though I have to crane my neck and look up when I speak to her, she’s still my little girl. Her “Mom, please, I’m so sorry but…” sank like a pin into the balloon of my irritation. One swift jab of her sweetness and I deflated. Don’t get me wrong, I felt totally and utterly frustrated with her, but what little is left of my tenderness from the kids’ early years, took over for the hardened mother I’ve become, the one that wants to teach them all the lessons.

My husband, a marshmallow on most days, suggested I let her feel the pain of her irresponsibility. I usually jump all over these opportunities–never let it be said my kids don’t learn from their mistakes. But something about her plaintive voice, and the thought of some poor child at her lunch table not receiving a gift, and the fact that I need bailing out repeatedly, stopped me. I realized, my kid has a lifetime to learn from her mistakes. Seriously, an entire lifetime of adulthood where she will screw up, and will find herself on her hands and knees wiping up her own mess. God knows, I’ve found myself with hands and knees raw and chapped from the constant bending, cleaning, humbling from cleaning up after my own mistakes.

I brought her the secret santa gift, which she’d wrapped all wonky and crooked, scrawling the name Brie across the top in her childish hand. I even stopped and picked up a warm bagel for her lunch. I thought of how little time and opportunity I have left to make things right for her, how few things I can truly fix. She’s at an age when the cracks begin to show in the lives of her friends, when relationships fall apart and heartbreak becomes a reality. When eating disorders and drugs and depression and drinking present a very real threat. I can’t mother away the pain of her friend’s illness or the friend whose dad left and whose life is falling apart. I can’t mother her into good grades and a stellar college. I can’t mother her into a relationship with Jesus. All I can do is show up when she needs me, and mother her in the small places.

When I arrived at the high school, I walked in with two other parents carrying what appeared to be forgotten lunches. We lined up at the welcome table manned by two volunteer mothers. Papers, bagged lunches, and crumpled athletic uniforms piled up on the table, and in the middle sat the sign-in form for the forgotten items. One mom handed me a pen and a sticky note with a wry smile. She sees this all day long–mamas doing the best they can to parent in the small places left to us, before we’re crowded out altogether.

………………..

Do you wish you had someone to clean up behind your messes sometimes? I know I do!

Where the wild things roam

DSC_5710

When I close my eyes in bed at night, the images come to me. They flash like pictures from a reel of film, a flicker and they’re gone, moving straight away from one to the next. They vary from the beautiful to the grotesque. A piece of jewelry, a man’s face, a low slung moon, a woman’s hands, an unknown location. Sometimes they match snippets of thought or conversation or my experiences throughout the day, but often they come from someplace deeper. I like to think of it as my own personal version of where the wild things roam. Apparently, they roam in my subconscious if my nighttime routine is any indication.

I often wish I was an artist so I could paint a rendition. I wish I was a novelist so I could tell the full story. I wish I wrote lyrics so I could create music to accompany the visions. But, I am none of these things, so I try to make sense of them with as much logic as I can summon when the gatekeepers leave and the wild things enter the picture. There isn’t much logic to be had at this particular point in the evening. Just ask my husband, recipient of many a meltdown and illogical reasoning, from his spot in the bed next to me.

In the past, I allowed my fear and my worries to consume me at night. Now, I try to deal with them in the light, so when darkness falls, I make room for all of the other things left unwritten and unspoken. I’ve discovered much of what I see behind my eyes is really a mirror of the work going on in my soul. The strangest fears come out of hiding, the desires I can’t yet speak of find their place, and the little details, the nuances of emotion I seem to miss during the day, have their way.

I want to pay closer attention to the wild things, to what’s happening at my soul level. I want to let go of the daily distractions and get to the heart of the images that flash behind my closed eyelids. Who knows what might be hiding?

……………………

Does something similar happen to you when you close your eyes after a long day, or am I just a little bit crazy? What’s one wild thing roaming around in your heart that wants to come out of hiding?

Home at last

DSC_5690

A friend mentioned her daughter wants to attend university overseas, and she wants my daughter, her best friend, to attend school in Europe with her. In spite of all our moving around, her daughter and my oldest girl have been besties for almost eight years. I didn’t have the heart to tell my girlfriend that I plan for my daughter to live at home forever and ever or, if pushed, I might allow her to attend school one state over. Maybe.

The desire to keep my kids close is universal to motherhood, and yet I know her independent streak will get the best of us in the end. No one explains the downside of raising children who know how to make a home wherever they land. We raise children who leave us. They see the world as an open book and they want to turn the pages. I understand this urge. I’ve experienced my share of page turning, and while I still possess frequent wanderlust wishes, I want the book to gather dust for a while.

My husband made an off-handed remark recently about moving to another location at some point in the future, and I whipped my head around so fast I almost gave myself whiplash. For the first time in a decade, I feel well and truly settled. I don’t hear the incessant clock ticking away deep in my belly, counting down time until our next adventure in moving. I don’t think it’s gone entirely, but the clock sits in snooze mode indefinitely.

Last week, we removed all the metal poles supporting the foundation of our house from the basement. First, the construction company placed a steel beam the length of our house to support the weight of it, and then they removed the poles one by one. When the last pole gave way, the entire house gave a deep sigh, and relaxed into the settling. This season of life, feels exactly like the deepest, most comfortable sigh. I too, feel myself falling into a settling. This year, my soul exhaled one great big breath, as if to say, Home at last, and this constancy continues to surprise me.

In the past eighteen months, since our move to New Jersey, I find one pole after another knocked out from under me. Some of our friendships, our church location, place in this town, family goals, and even our own desires no longer provide the same structural support they offered since living here previously. The ones that no longer support our family gave way to something better. The ones that have gone the distance with us as a family, have become more precious, more supportive, more life-giving. They are the backbone of steel in our family’s foundation.

I am infinitely curious of what it means to put down roots, and to commit to truly living, not just existing somewhere. This doesn’t come naturally to me, but I feel myself adapting to the idea of Home at last, with a solid foundation in the making.

…………………..

What kind of foundation have you built around your home and your current season of life?

This post is part of an ongoing series. You’ll find me here writing about Home every Monday. To receive these posts straight to your inbox, sign up below. As always, thanks for reading!

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner