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.
🎵Hold me closer Tiny Dancer🎶
But seriously, someone hold me. I am fainting in all directions over how big and brave and beautiful this girl of mine is. I danced ballet for 15 years and to see her on stage today was A FULL CIRCLE OF EMOTIONS. 360 degrees of feels. .
I told her if she was nervous, to just smile at her friend Clara (🤷♀️🤷♀️🤷♀️is that good advice? Idk) and she grinned the whole time so I guess it was a win-win. We celebrated with milkshakes and a ride through the car wash because being four years old is MAGICAL 💃💃💃
Ohhhhh I really like this kid. Did anyone else worry before kids that you would love them but not really like them? Well, I really like mine. Whew.
The bad news: Aidah laughed so hard watching this spectacle that she seems to have pulled a muscle in her ribs or something 🤷♀️ so naturally she announced to the whole bank “MY LAUGHING TWISTED ALL OF MY BONES AND HURTED MY NIBBLES!”
The good news: we got approved for our loan and will commence construction of our Airbnb soon. Stay tuned. .
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE: We got to keep whatever money Drew caught and put it toward our loan balance. He had a strategy ahead of time (concentrate on waist-high bills and trap them against his core). How much cash do you think he caught? Comment your guess and whoever is furthest from the correct total has to teach Aidah how to pronounce the word “nipples”.
By popular demand, here is a Best of Penguin compilation, with a bonus video at the end of my tiny Japanese grandma enjoying it for herself. This is the kind of compelling content I always dreamed of creating 🤷♀️
I’ve had a LOT of jobs in my life. Like, an absurdly long and varied list. .
Being a mom is my favorite job so far- even better than that advertising internship, where I got paid to taste test vodka.
Being a mom is also the hardest job I’ve ever had, including that same advertising internship, where I got yelled at for stocking the fridge with sparkling water without facing the labels out 💀and for buying an executive THE WRONG BRAND OF IMITATION ITALIAN ICE. .
It’s the grossest job I’ve ever had, including the laundromat job, where I washed clothes for a family that clearly had bowel issues. (Thank God for rubber gloves.)
It’s the most creative job I’ve had, including my time in copywriting or teaching ballet or teaching high school English. .
It’s the most physically taxing job, including the years I spent as a “stock boy” at a hardware store, hauling around propane tanks and giant bags of mulch. .
It’s the most fascinating job I’ve ever had, including the years I spent editing Philosophy and Religion textbooks. .
Being a mom is disappointing and transcendent and harrowing and hilarious and all of the lowest of lows and highest of highs I never could have dreamed up. It is only a part of who I am but it is one of my favorite parts.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms who make up my village. Thanks for pouring into me and my girls and making me feel brave and capable in the midst of the marvelous mess. Cheers to us ❤️
Genetically predisposed to smizing, lankiness, storytelling, LOTS OF BIG FEELINGS, and being the last one swimming when everyone else is bored of the water. 💃💃💃
A surprisingly accurate portrait of me:
Clingy baby ✅
Party size box of diapers ✅
Rushing between mom life and work life ✅
Kind of struggling ✅
Kind of laughing ✅
Here we have Princess Arra Jinna Princess Straton. (Double Princess because she’s a #fancyfish ) . “I’m going to have such sweet dreams now, Mom, because I have a bud bud to share my room with me and keep me safe.” .
Um okay. You clearly don’t understand fish or...safety, but very very happy for you nonetheless.
The public opinion on my last post was intense. I now understand that hard-boiled eggs are a polarizing issue in this country. So now I’m hesitant to discuss banana bread. But in the interest of civil discourse I will say I find it consistently underwhelming. Like, I will eat it if it’s there and it is always a B- experience. Chocolate chips take it to a B+ at most. I see it’s value as a use for old bananas and a vehicle for butter. That’s all.
. 🍌🍌🍌BANANA BREAD IS UNDERWHELMING. CHANGE MY MIND.🍌🍌🍌
Here are a few fun facts about me. Okay maybe they are just facts:
1. This is a picture of me holding my dress shut, realizing that the last two times I wore it I was pregnant and absolutely destroyed the zipper. But I don’t hate that lighting.
2. I DO hate hard boiled eggs. Like, top 3 hatred. Like, Fear Factor hatred. Thinking about them makes me angry.
3. Both of my daughters LIVE FOR HARD BOILED EGGS. (Where did I go wrong!?!?!) They are one of the only foods my girls will consistently eat without complaint or cajoling. They will choose HBE over cookies.
4. That’s it. That’s all I can think about because they’re both eating hard boiled eggs right now, 3 feet from me. Jesus, take the wheel.
How we all feel about leaving the beach and starting the long drive back to Nashville.⠀
Meanwhile, I linked out to the post I wrote a year ago. In retrospect, it is extremely scattered but I still like it and I hope you do too. Life is hard and beautiful, often at the same exact time. ⠀
Link in bio, but excerpt below:⠀
“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.⠀
If you have been sitting in darkness for so long that light seems impossible…If your Sunday has been months, years, DECADES in the making…I’m so sorry. I see you. It is unfair. It is maddening. I know how empty the Christian clichés are. I know how it can actually make you physically angry when someone tries to offer you hope...”⠀
(Read the rest at the link in my bio)