Every parent can relate to this scenario: I come home from a productive but tiring afternoon in the office. I'm excited to decompress and shove some food in my face...but then I open the door to A MAELSTROM OF CHAOS AND NEED. I am hit in the face by the banshee cries of three separate humans, 27 different questions and the faintest whiff of poop. My very first thought is:
"NO -I CANNOT- I AM DEPLETED."
But I've been working on my thought life lately. Separating myself from my swirling emotions and rapid-fire inner dialogue. I've been trying to remember to 'take every thought captive'. So I grabbed that thought, carried it into the next room and examined it, holding it up to the Light. An inquisition of sorts.
Hello, little thought. Where did you come from? Are you real or not real?
Because – elementary as this may seem – I am still learning that I have choices when it comes to my thoughts. Just like emotions, thoughts are not within my control. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT I AM WITHIN THEIR CONTROL. Thoughts come and go but their autonomy doesn’t necessarily make them legitimate.
I have found this to be very important. I think the Biblical directive to take our thoughts captive is an accurate visual. I picture these thoughts like little fireflies, buzzing across my headspace. They’re smaller than me. Annoying and quick, but well within my ability to capture. I can clap them into a mason jar and have a good look.
So this thought that consumed me upon entrance to my kitchen – “I CANNOT. I AM DEPLETED.” I remembered that it was just like a bug : separate, small, observable. I clapped it into a jar and took a good look.
Are you true or false?
I compared it to the Truth I’ve memorized, God’s promises I’ve ingested…and I decided this one was false and therefore not welcome.
I thought the biggest step would be learning not to quit. I am an expert quitter - always have been. I have this bad habit of over-achieving or over-committing or overreaching (with plenty of self-criticism shmeared on for motivation) until I burn out and then cry and throw up my hands and make sweeping declarations about quitting and laying down and sleeping for a week. This has been my pattern for a long time, but most especially since I became a mom and lost a lot of my precious, previously-taken-for-granted alone time.
"You can't control your emotions, but you can control your behavior."
Aidah is a girl with Big Feelings. She gets that from me, along with her freckles and aversion to strangers. But Aidah has the added sparkle of her dad’s Big Responses. Drew’s booming voice and animated reactions and heightened performer persona all play out on a grand scale when they mix with my Big Feelings in her tiny little body. We see a lot of meltdowns and tears and wailing and SWEEPING DECLARATIONS from our girl. Which is usually pretty funny and fairly harmless…but it’s still our responsibility to help her navigate that and grow up to be a functioning human.
And it’s really complex to help a three-year-old to see the distinction between her feelings and her behavior. To help her see that we are ONLY disapproving of the behavior. I always feel kind of hypocritical when we have these chats because these are lessons I'm still learning.
You with the tired smile and the callus of expectation on her heart. It's been a while in this season, hasn't it? It's okay to feel raggedy and forlorn. You've been a trooper.
Feel all of those blue feelings. Let them break over you and let them be what they are: evidence of hope. Of a soul turned toward the sun. You want something. You're passionate about it - enough so that you nudged your tender little heart out there on the front lines.
Take a minute and honor the courage that takes. Vulnerability is a choice, even if it's only made silently, amidst your private petitions tossed Heavenward.
Now, Braveheart, let's weed out the truths from the lies.
I’ve been reading Exodus and lately, I’m trudging through God’s detailed instructions to Moses on how to build the tabernacle – the place where He would come and dwell with His people. Usually, I skim through these descriptions
Mhm- a cubit of acacia and an...ephod?... Yes, I’m perfectly familiar with these terms.
But this time around, I’m hung up on the luxurious detail God wants poured into this tent. I mean, the instructions for the tabernacle go beyond the sort of respectful Sunday best that I’m familiar with. Way beyond. This thing is LAVISH. It is decked out. Versailles-level extravagance.
Holy Week is a study in paradox. The somber and the celebratory.
I know many people politely pay their respects to Good Friday, impatient to get to the explosion of praise on Sunday. These people want to celebrate and give thanks for the life and abundance they are experiencing in their season. I get that and I think it’s wonderful – I’ve been there. I am there, in a way.
Last year, I visited a different camp. I spent last Good Friday as a Mourner. (I suppose I always will, in a way.) And to the people in that group who resonate terribly with this ‘holiday’, who recognize all-too-well the specter of death, the hope extinguished, the DARKNESS…I am so sorry you’re in that place. I know (I’ve felt) that He promises to be near to the brokenhearted and crushed in Spirit. But that doesn’t make it much easier, does it?
But there’s a third group. The Saturday people, often overlooked in the church. I think it’s because we make projects out of the Friday people and leaders out of the Sunday people. But what about the people in that bleak and weary middle. Who have heard the repeated promises of redemption and are just…waiting. Who commiserate with the Mourners and can’t help but grin at the Sunday celebrators, but go home to their threadbare resolve.
This is the story of my very best Saturday. But I won’t ever forget the time I spent in that waiting place.
Several of you have asked if there is a story behind Noah's name.
Oh, guys - you know me so well. OF COURSE THERE IS.
I've told you before that grief is exhausting. In the early days, it ate up SO MUCH of my emotional bandwidth, leaving me with this strange feeling of scarcity. I would acknowledge that my threshold was necessarily low, and end up doling out my emotions with pinching thriftiness.
A little for you, a little for that. Whoops, I anticipate a tough weekend coming up, so I can't have this conversation right now.
So when my best friend Danielle asked me if we were trying to have another baby, it took me a while to come up with the words to text back.
I....don't...can't...no know how to words I think about that...
**I feel the need to clarify that the majority of this post was written when we first moved to Nashville and I was not nursing a newborn...
"Let's drink tequila and talk about the universe."
This is how I wish I could make friends in my new city. When I see that girl with sick dreadlocks making amazing watercolors in the corner of the cafe or pass the cool moms at the farmer's market whose kids dress better than I do...I wish I could skip the whole introduction/small talk/feel each other out and get right to the point.
So what do you think about God's interaction with the space time continuum?
I like to think that I am not typically a bandwagoner. I resisted the acid wash revival trend and I don't like pumpkin flavored drinks and I still don't think Seinfeld is funny.
But on the occasion that I do jump on a bandwagon, I make sure to try and drag everyone on with me. (I'm not #basic, you're just dumb). YOU'RE NOT WEARING HIGH WAISTED PANTS!? WHAT, DO YOU HATE YOUR INTESTINES OR DO YOU SIMPLY ENJOY THE SMALL MORTIFYING EXERCISE OF TUCKING YOUR BELLY INTO YOUR WAISTBAND BEFORE YOU SIT DOWN?
That being said, I am ready to announce my #wordfor2018. Yes, thank you for waiting on the edge of your seat.
These girls are going off the grid in 2019 ✌️
I’m taking a social media break for the month of January (um, well, starting now). I’m going to do some reflecting and set some goals and reevaluate what I’m doing and why! I’ve been studying the ancient Hebrew concept of shalom (wholeness! harmony! peace! wellness!) and looking to establish rhythms and disciplines within my days that lead to MORE shalom. I’m learning that my role as life-giver in this home doesn’t simply apply to birth - there is a unique responsibility on me to foster growth and abundance and I want to learn to do that in more of a proactive way...as opposed to the slapdash, REactive way I’ve been getting by with thus far. .
BUT LET’S BE REAL - according to a recent poll (conducted by me...here on Instagram...) 72% of you aren’t here for my reflections on shalom. You’re here to watch Aidah live her fancy, hilarious life. Stings a bit, but I’ve accepted it. 😆 To those of you who look forward to laughing at my children on your potty break...welp, I’m sorry. Until Noah can learn to hold the camera steady to capture all of Aidahs performances, these girls still need me to get on the World Wide Web. .
So, Happy New Year! One of the great joys of my 2018 was connecting with some of you and having important conversations about God and babies and business and booze...more of all of that in the year to come! Xoxo
Our little Aidah Hope is four years old today. Four years of the fanciest, sing-songiest, chattiest little dimple queen in all the land. What a gift and an adventure to be her mom. The name Aidah means “to adorn oneself” and when we named her, I prayed she would be someone who wakes up and adorns herself in hope. She does this and then shines it on out to everyone around her with her sunshine, sass and curiosity. Oh I just love her to pieces. ❤️
Happy Birthday to Drew, whose singular flaw (besides rasping his dry feet together as he falls asleep at night) is that he never checks social media. So this is just my annual PSA that love wins and Drew Straton is the greatest and most golden person. Funny and brilliant and talented and endlessly, absurdly kind. He is currently engrossed in a dream day full of POOL AND DARTS AND PICKLEBALL AND SPIKEBALL AND RAQUETBALL AND CARDS AND ALL THE GAMES HE CREATES WITHIN THOSE GAMES but if you have birthday wishes for him, I will pass them on due to his aforementioned flaw. .
Happy birthday to my love. Thank you for being exactly, wonderfully, weirdly you. After all these years I still love and like you the most. I hope you win all the games forever and honestly your feet serve us all so well so...rasp on.
Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Well into adulthood and it still doesn’t really feel like Christmas to me until I’m holding a candle and singing Silent Night. Tonight I looked down the row...at my proud almost-four-year old Aidah holding her own candle...my little brother - the one and only Uncle Rara...my one true love Drew... and even my hangry newly-one-year old Noey tomahawking her glowstick at the skull of the woman in front of me...oh I’m just so thankful. There is light and there is dark but oh there is hope. Merry Christmas everyone ❤️
Aidah, test-driving a new smile for the holidays ❤️
A year ago today, sweet Noah Zamar was born. It’s been all treats and farts and snoozing ever since. Oh Noey. What a delight. She’s in her happy place when she’s scooting around all nudie and grubby, clutching a soggy snack in one chubby fist. I had trouble hunting down many photos of her without Aidah because they are basically inseparable...and for that I think I am the most thankful❤️
(PS remember when I was pregnant and Aidah used to -inexplicably- call her Baby Woof Woof?)
The Christmas card that never was. .
Listen, we have three birthdays (four if you count Baby Jesus) in this family over the next 11 days so once again, I forgot the whole card thing. It’s a shame too, since we went through all of the trouble to take these pictures, each more successful than the next. .
I’m not even a little bit embarrassed to say my inspiration was the Kardashian photo booth photos 🤷♀️ .
Merry Merry Month from my crew to yours ❤️
For the longest time, my only prayer for Noah was, “please let me keep her please let me keep her please let me keep her.” And then, after she was born, it was something like, “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU WOW WOW WOW” .
She is turning one next week and it’s only recently that I feel I’ve been able to SEE her - really just see her as somehow more and less than my miracle. More than the happy story woven into a sad chapter. That shouldn’t be her pressure to carry. I never want her to be defined by or appreciated for the grief she followed. She exists somehow outside of and yet rightly in the midst of the stories our family was writing when she joined us. .
She’s Noah. .
She’s funny and stubborn and focused and flatulent. She’s easygoing...until she’s not and then she’s IRATE. She’s always exploring and always hungry and always delighted to see us. .
She is the Noeyest Noey to ever Noey and I’m so happy to be her mom.
I know it looks like she eviscerated a squid. And while I have no doubts that she could/would do that...with glee...this mess is from blueberry muffin mix.
WHAT A JOY TO LIVE BY YOUR SIDE.
If you haven’t met your neighbors yet, I urge you to just go for it. They might just turn out to be the weirdest, sweetest framily you ever had.
CREATE BEFORE YOU CONSUME.
Enneagram 4s, gather round as I share my wealth of wisdom. ...........
So, uh, did you guys know that social media can be, like, bad for you? 😆🤦♀️🤷♀️ .
I don't know if it's a Four thing or a me thing...but I have this tendency to think that I'm such a special snowflake that what works for Other People couldn't possibly benefit me. I see friends going on social media fasts and limiting their screen time. They talk about how freeing it is and how much perspective it gives them. And I think "that is so wonderful. I'm so happy for them. If only there were SOMETHING I could do to yield similar results."
Oh, me. .
But last week, I was listening to @tshoxenreider interview on the @typologypodcast and she talked about what a tension there is for her (a fellow Four) in social media. How she needs to use it for work and enjoys it for the creativity that is sparked by community...but also how she finds that it drums up envy in her. Not malicious envy, but that frantic comparison that can stamp out the most promising sparks of inspiration. She said that now she wakes up and immediately starts creating - she doesn't do any social media until the afternoon. .
So - long story short - I've been trying this and it is laughably effective. IT TURNS OUT I AM ACTUALLY SIMILAR TO OTHER HUMANS. I used that handy Screen Time feature in the latest iPhone update to limit my social media. I start my day by writing - something, anything - before I consume any incoming art (this goes for books, music, social media, etc!) And I'm already seeing the benefits. The authenticity and ease I am able to create with. The joy I'm able to feel (instead of panic) when others make something beautiful. .
And of course, I am me, so I'm diving deeper into this message and applying it to my spiritual practice, my Christmas shopping, my parenting, etc. BECAUSE I AM A FOUR TO THE CORE AND MY FEELINGS ARE MASSIVE AND MY INTENTIONS ARE ALWAYS FAR TOO DEEP. .
Any other Fours out there?