Thursday, June 20, 2024

Recent Reads



We are going to go from top to bottom in this stack.

1 - The Bible. Several years ago, when my first couple of kids were tiny, I saw someone write about this idea of reading through a Bible for each of their kids and then presenting it to them when they turn 18. I tucked the idea away for a few years and then dove in. Obviously I started with Rainy's first because she was going to turn 18 first. I found a pretty journaling Bible, a reading plan that would take me through the Bible in a year, and then began. I underlined things, I jotted down prayers in the margin's and wrote little notes all throughout about insights I'd have throughout the year with Rainy on my mind and in my prayers while reading the Word. After a couple of years I jumped into another one for Zeke. Same idea but different reading plan. Then on to Alethia's. Well, this past week I finished up Cai's. It is so interesting that you can read the same book over and over and in different ways and come away with new insights. And when you have a particular child in mind while reading it, the words come alive in a new way. In another year or two I'll get one for Jude and finish out the tradition.

2 - Pursue The Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. This was a sweet read. An older woman writing her journey of trying to capture her days, each and every one of them, and live her life towards eternity, while being intentional in today. Thank you Sarah for the borrow!

3 -  Mockingbird Summer by Lynda Rutledge. This story had my heart. It is set in the time period of counter sit ins in the 60's. I thought it gave really great perspective of this time period and some of the struggles during that transitional time. Highly recommend as a summer read to get totally lost in!

4 - The Winners by Fredrik Backman. Ya'll know I love Backman and his novels. Alethia knows that too and spotted this one in one of those book trading boxes at our park and snagged it up for me. This book didn't disappoint, but I have to say, it was a LOT of words. This book is by far the longest book I have EVER read! In fact, I got over 100 pages in and got caught up the Mockingbird Summer (and couldn't put that one down) that I had to skim back through the initial pages of the Winners again to get reacquainted with the multitude of characters. So many names! I almost gave it up but was determined to make it to the end. I'm not typically affected by cussing in books, but this one definitely topped the number of F* bombs in a book. Also, I wasn't a big fan of the ending...but it was good and I view it as a personal accomplishment to have read such a large book, lol.

5 - Counting The Cost by Jill Duggar. We've all heard of the Duggar family. Many of us watched those kids grow up. I personally had only seen a couple of the episodes, but we ALL heard about the scandal of the eldest brother and I encountered first-hand experiences growing up from the ripple effects from the IBLP movement and their teachings.  So when Shiny Happy People came out it reignited my interest. It's always interesting reading personal stories and reading their perspectives. I for sure recommend this one. This book is an excellent example of how much grace is needed in relationships. I really loved the ending on this one. I'm reading her sister's book right now so I'll let you know how that one is when I'm done.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Play It Out


When one of our kids was in elementary school they had an IEP.  One of the written allowances was extra time, or no time limit at all, when it came to test taking or projects. Being on the clock caused his extreme anxiety to kick into high gear and he would either shut down and nothing would get answered or he would just guess at everything just to get done. (Or on more than one occasion he would take off running!)

The older I've gotten, and the more in tune with my own anxiety I have become, I have seen the same to be true with me. No, I don't rush to bubble in whatever random answers will finish the task the quickest, but being on the clock for sure triggers my anxiety. Whether I am on my way to an appointment or cooking dinner in the kitchen, when I have a certain time limit restraining my freedom I feel trapped and paralyzed. 

When the child I mentioned before was going to counseling, his therapist worked with him at trying to look ahead, far ahead of the task at hand, to the final outcome. This would help to level the playing field a little bit and would help eliminate the "what's gonna happen if..." question that causes the anxiety.

I have thought about that a lot over the years. I have tried to begin to do this myself too, since me and my child are so much alike! And honestly, this practice has helped to counter countless anxiety-inducing fears over the years.

For instance:

Let's say I am on my way to an appointment and traffic has the arrival time on my GPS creeping up minute by minute. I begin sweating and my breathing becomes shallow (I know this seems a bit excessive to those of you who do not struggle with anxiety), but in that moment I cannot control any of that. But what I can control is the mental battleground that is causing my body to respond this way. I begin walking forward in time and mentally role-playing the scenario out. Traffic has me walking into my appointment 5, 10, 15 minutes late. What happens next? 

This actual scenario has happened. Last year. I walked into my appointment and literally started crying when the person at the counter said I was too late and they gave my appointment to someone else, and "when would be a good time to reschedule"? I wanted to say, "Never! I need to have my appointment today and be done with it!!!"

*sigh*

What happens when I proactively walk this out though is that I can settle into that option being a pretty good chance at happening BEFORE getting there and falling apart. I can call the office and tell them I'm running behind and see what my options are before getting any farther down the road. Or maybe I show up late and the front desk checks me in anyway and I walk right into my appointment.

But in either one of these outcomes everything really is ok. I have either had my appointment and it's done. Or I have to reschedule, which is for sure a nuisance, but again, it's done for today and I am ok.

This next one happened today. This week is hair week for our ethnic-haired beauty and we have a new thing we are doing. I was so nervous about it because I want my daughter to like it and I want it to be what she wants, but I was doubting my white mama skills in executing it the right way. I also know I have other responsibilities this week, because you know...being a mom... and doing hair typically takes about 8 hours of my time. (yes, you read that right)

So I'm sitting here starting to get all worked up, wondering if I'm going to actually be able to get it all done in time, especially since it is new hair. And here it comes again...the reminder to take a deep breathe and walk out all the scenarios. In this one, I alone am the one trying to put time restraints on this to-do. We gave ourselves plenty of time (we've learned a lot over the years) before she goes off to camp or have any outside obligations. This allows us to work in stages. So what if I don't finish it today or tomorrow like I am wanting to? Why can't I squeeze in another hour here and there throughout the week? Nothing will happen to her, to me, to our family if the hair doesn't get done in the next 2 days like I'm making myself feel like I need to.

This practice works like a charm when trying to herd little kids around. Early on into parenthood I decided that I would always try to NOT be in a hurry with the kids. Because, as every caretaker knows, for some reason as soon as a kid senses that we need to hurry they begin moving like they are wading through molasses and this mama would lose her ever loving mind! And that is not the mom I want to be. (This also clearly becomes a recipe for disaster to my aforementioned child who struggles with feeling like he has to be in a hurry!) So I would practice looking forward. What if we don't get to the grocery store and then back home in time for the nap that will ensure a happy heart at the event I'm playing this evening. Nothing. Nothing would happen. I might have a slightly grumpy baby from a late nap, or no nap. I might have to rearrange the rest of my afternoon. I might even have to cancel something. But the day would go on and it would be OK.

I KNOW this is easier said than done, but the next time you feel the heat rising in your body or the fear and anxiety bubbling just under the surface, try to stop, take a breathe and start looking forward.

And most of the time, life will just go on.

There might be a need to pivot the day or some of your other plans.

But...

Everything will be ok.

And in those rare circumstance where something terrible does happen, God is in that too. You can give that to Him.

He promises to provide because he truly does care about the best for us, even if the scenario ends in the worst case scenario.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

May - Ends and Beginnings

 I'm sitting here writing this at my desk. Right above my desk is my calendar. It is open to June and June is LOVELY! There is so much open space on my calendar that it makes me shoulders relax and my inhales deep and my exhales long.

But that is NOT what my calendar looked like in May. I hardly have any photos to recap May so the quantity of pictures don't give justice to the month we lived. But I've also been trying to get better and just being in the moment without my phone all the time, which I consider a win.

Highlights:

Josh ran his beast with his brother to complete his Spartan Trifecta.


I was asked to speak for the New Sandy Creek's Seniors group. It was like a family reunion. (You can click THIS LINK to read the talk I gave that I rewrote as a blog.)

Our church released the first volume of our Living Room Sessions. We recorded these in our living room during COVID and it feels so redemptive to have these moments captured live and now out in the world on all major music platforms. (Search "Seven Marks Worship")



Cai finished up his club soccer season with the rec cup. No I did not pay $35 for the picture! Goodness. But I did grab a screenshot just to document his team. They really pulled it together toward the end of the season after a rough start. We have loved the coach that he's had with NCFC for the past few years. 

One of our bass players on the team helped open up an Argentinian bakery and we went to show him some love after opening day. We are SO excited for them!  If you are ever in the Raleigh area, make sure you stop by Milonga and try something. I promise you'll love every bite.



My grandmother made a family history book for each of her grandchildren before she passed away. It is for sure a treasure. Some of the pictures date back to the 1800's! After watching A Small Light, a Prime Video series based on the perspective on Miep Gies, a Dutch woman who helped Anne Frank and her family, we began talking about our own family and where they were during that time. Which brought out the book. I captured Jude's curiosity as Josh went through some of the history with him.



And last, but not least...we finished up another year of Homeschool. Goodbye 7th, 9th and 11th grade!


Cai has two days of exams next week and we are all officially into summer. And we have a FUN summer ahead!