what happened when i started saying “yes” to my kids.

As of late, I’ve become keenly aware of the number of times I say, “No” or “Don’t” or “Stop” each day.

  • Don’t sit on your chair like that; you’ll fall.
  • Stop putting yogurt in your hair.
  • No, you can’t wear that; it’s too small.
  • Don’t play on the stairs.
  • Stop putting your feet in his face.
  • Don’t scream like that.
  • No, it’s not time for a snack.
  • Don’t lick her tongue. 

(Parenting is so weird, isn’t it?)

It’s a constant reel.

Usually, the negative statements are necessary. If I never said, “No,” the girls would have bellies full of play dough and the baby would have gone headfirst out of his door jumper at the hands of his big sisters by now.

It comes down to health and safety and general necessary obedience usually.

You have to say, “No.”

So then I decided to start saying, “Yes,” as much as I possibly could.

And in this quest, a few things have happened.

•••••

The Avoidance of Unnecessary Power Struggles.

Lily has very specific fashion preferences and pays no mind to whether or not her clothes match. Now, I know some parents are all, “Oh, but it’s so cute when they dress themselves in ridiculous combinations,” but as someone who can’t sleep unless my pajamas match, this is not me.

But, as much as I can, I’ve been trying to let go, because when she gets to choose what she wants to wear, that’s one less battle I have to worry about during our day.

It’s a simple new litmus test, really (and this goes for more than just clothes): Am I saying, “No” for her benefit or mine?

If the “No” only benefits me, then I tryyyyy to let it go.

Try is the operative word here.

The Language Goes Both Ways.

Not only have I been trying to saying “Yes” more, I’ve been trying to be more positive during our conversations in general. You know, counter every “Stop talking like a baby” with a few “I love how you used your words”.

Yesterday, Lily told me that my necklace was “really beautiful.”

And this morning, as soon as Norah woke up, she said, “How was your sleep, mom? Good?”

Kids hear everything don’t they?

I’m realizing more tangibly now than ever that if I want my kids to be positive and kind and gracious, then those are the words they need to hear me say more than anything.

I Became More Present.

When the girls ask me to do something, (if possible; it’s not always) I’ve been trying to say, “Yes” immediately.

This has eliminated (for the most part) the phrase “Just a second” from my vocabulary.

So often, when that phrase comes out of my mouth, “a second” turns into something more like 3 or 4 or 5 minutes during which time, they get bored and find something else to do without me.

No good. (It’s especially no good when it say it because I know they’ll get bored and find something else to do without me. Oy.)

So now, whenever possible, I try to leave my phone (the obvious main culprit for my distraction) in another room, and say, “Yes, I would love to read that entire stack of 33 books right this second.”

And it’s so. much. better. to be present with them in those moments. I feel it at the end of our days when I reflect on our time together. It feels like I did something right.

Oh, and I have most of our children’s books committed to memory now, so there’s that too.

•••••

I’m a work in progress. Just this morning I drew a hard line and told Lily she had to wear pants that matched her shirt. (I did look the other way though when she added a skirt that most certainly didn’t match the ensemble. Baby steps.)

yes (1).png

 

Every day is laced with small failures. The “No” I said too sharply, the selfish “Stop” because I was annoyed with the noise, or the “Don’t” that only came out of my mouth because I didn’t want to get off the couch.

It’s easy to get bogged down by those moments, but I’m finding that the more intentional I am about my positive language, the less power the negatives have over my thoughts at the end of the day.

The days intentionally filled with, “Yes” or “I’d really like to” or “That’s a great idea,” well, those are the days I’ve started feeling really good about.

Of course my days will still be filled with “No.”

I’ve got graham cracker intake and overall baby safety to manage, after all.

I guess I just want to make sure that my days are filled with a lot of yeses too.

I mean, how many more days of endless stacks of children’s books or heaping piles of dress-up dresses do I really have ahead of me?

 

march book review + giveaway!

Three months in, and I almost didn’t meet my one book quota for March.

However, I am proud to say that, thanks to Jake’s shift schedule, my kids actually staying in bed at bedtime, and my ability to sit in one place for hours at a time, I read 399 pages across two nights and finished All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr juuuuust in the nick of time. 

Everybody told me to read this one after I read The Nightingale in January and asked for light and easy suggestions for my next book.

So, another WWII novel it was!

This particular one follows Marie-Laure, a young French girl who became blind at the age of 6, and Werner, a German orphan recruited by an academy for the Hitler Youth because of his mechanical prowess. The book tracks their respective stories from the beginning of the war to the end until they ultimately (you guessed it) converge.

Someone aptly described Doerr’s writing style to me as something like a scientist with an art degree. His descriptions are so intricately woven together and his voice so captivatingly unique that my tendency to skip entire paragraphs while I read (I know. It’s a terrible habit.) had to go by the wayside for this one. 

Like The Nightingale (or most novels I read, for that matter), there is a lot to take from fictional lives within these pages, but one particular conversation keeps running through my mind.

Someone (I’ll never tell who!) tells Marie-Laure that she is very brave.

She responds keenly:

When I lost my sight, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?

I’ve been thinking lately about how sometimes the most extraordinary people don’t even realize how extraordinary they are.

They wake up, take what they’ve been given, and make a choice to do well with it.

No matter the obstacles. No matter the difficulties. No matter the fact that they can’t see to the other side.

They wake up and they live their lives.

And that’s something, if you ask me.

•••••

Yes, of course I’m going to give this book away. Like I keep saying, books are worthless when you keep them all to yourself. (Cheers to Jess for getting my highlighted copy of The Screwtape Letters!) 

So, if you want me to send you my copy for FREE, you (anyone who is reading these words) have two options:

  1. Comment straight on this post.
  2. Comment on or reply to whatever social media outlet led you to this post.

Throw up those hand-raising emojis or give me another recommendation (bearing in mind that I’ve decided to take a break from war-related novels for a few months).

Happy reading! (I mean this literally.)

all the light2.png

accepting the invitation to wholeness.

I set out into this year with a pretty simple, albeit, kind of intangible goal: Let hard things change me instead of trying to change the hard things.

So, about that.

I have been reminded lately that when you start praying to see change in your own life, you will, in turn, start to see the things in your life that need changing.

Shocker, right?

And, as it would be, I have recently become convicted of some pieces of myself that need changing.

They are things which, were we to sit down and discuss them over coffee (that sounds nice, actually), wouldn’t overly alarm you. They are “small” things–mindsets, habits, tendencies. They are pieces of my personality that I could probably chalk up to, “Well that’s just how I am,” if I really wanted to.

But I’ve always believed that particular excuse to be moo¹ and sneakily able to hold me back from who God wants (and calls) me to be.

And so, for a few weeks, I tried to change. I said various generic statements to myself:

Stop feeling that way.

Stop thinking like that.

Stop worrying about this.

But then nothing changed.

I still felt like the ugly things had some fingernail holds, and I couldn’t shake them despite how many times I prayed that they would just go away.

It was then that I stumbled into a few verses from Psalm 119.

obscura (1).png

Those verses stuck in my brain. I thought about them and thought about them and thought about them, and realized that I had been trying to get rid of the ugly parts of my soul without replacing them with anything Good and Worthwhile. I was just willing them to leave and then hoping to just move on without them.

I don’t think that’s how transformation works.

It was when I started inclining myself toward Truth that I noticed my heart start to change. It was when I started to prioritize the time I spent reading through what God promises and wants for me that I realized how futile it was to try to change without actively acknowledging what He actually had to say about any of it.

And it was then that I started to feel the life in His ways.

(Although I certainly still have a long way to go.)

And then, a few days ago, I read an essay Sarah Bessey wrote² which subsequently helped cross a few more “t’s” in this particular train of thought.

Here’s an excerpt from the end of her essay:

I think that conviction has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the Church over the past little while. It’s understandable. We have an overcorrection to a lot of the legalism and boundary-marker Christianity that damaged so many, the behaviour modification and rule-making and imposition of other people’s convictions onto our own souls.

But in our steering away from legalism, I wonder if we left the road to holiness or began to forget that God also cares about what we do and how we do it and why.

Conviction is less about condemnation than it is about invitation. It’s an invitation into freedom. It’s an invitation into wholeness.

Perhaps our choices towards those invitations from God are really an intersection for our agency or free will and the Holy Spirit’s activity – maybe that’s where transformation begins.

Conviction is less about condemnation than it is about invitation.

It’s an invitation into freedom.

It’s an invitation into wholeness.

This is the kind of change I want for myself.

And what I’m seeing clearly is that accepting the invitation into wholeness is not passive.

Transformation will not just happen to me by sheer willpower alone.

It starts with the choice to change and is heavily dependent on what I choose to fill myself with. And then?

The promise of life and wholeness through the transforming work of the Spirit.

And, well, that seems pretty worth it to me.


¹ If this reference is not lost on you, then we are already friends, and you understand me on a very deep level.

² Here is the link to Sarah Bessey’s essay again. It made me think about a lot of things. It might make you think about a lot of things, too. You should read it in its entirety, and then we can discuss it over coffee.

the thing about winter.

I realized the other day that I was willing it to be spring.

Much like many of you, we’ve had some unseasonably warm days over the past month.

And, on each of those days, I would find myself wishing emphatically that they would stay.

I’m over snow and mittens and the fifteen minutes it takes me to get three kids bundled up before we can even get outside. I’m ready for flip-flops and after-dinner walks for ice cream while the sun still peeks over the horizon.

I’m over winter.

But then I started to feel bad for winter. (I did, really. It’s weird being me sometimes.)

I mean, people go crazy for fall and get twitterpated about spring, but winter, I think, tends to get a pretty bad rap. (And, often, rightly so. I mean, stop slapping us in the face with your cold wind and maybe we’d like you a little more, you know?)

Anyway.

I love the symbolism of both fall and spring; the letting go of dead things to make room for new growth.

Surely winter has something to teach as well, right?

tip yourtaxi driverif possible.png

So I started looking for it. Amidst the bare trees and cold, hard ground, I told myself winter had to be good for something.

And when I shifted my lens, I started to feel the anticipation of everything around me.

Now, it’s worth noting that I already live in a fairly constant state of anticipation. I’m always thinking about things to come, guessing endings, and consuming myself with what-ifs.

It keeps me very calm and loosely wound all the time, and Jake loves this quality about me.

The anticipation of winter feels different though because there are no hypotheticals.

I don’t have to worry whether or not spring will come. Of course it will. New life always gets breathed into the death of winter.

Much like my own personal seasons, really. While I wouldn’t describe my life as particularly dead or barren right now, there is a constant presence of some shortcoming or fault being laid bare (as there should be).

But winter reminds me to live in hopeful anticipation of the growth. It reminds me that new life is promised if I resolve to fix my eyes on the things that matter. The eternal, lasting things.

And, there’s no worry or what-ifs in that.

So, after all this, I’ve decided you can stay for a bit longer, winter. You’re not all bad.

Just cool it a little with the wind, okay?

Today is your day. You're off to great places! You're off and away!

february book review + giveaway

My first book of 2017 stressed me out so much that I literally had to take a three day break in the middle of reading it in order to catch my bearings.

I decided that I should follow that experience up with a light and easy read, so I chose The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

Ha.

In case you’re not familiar with the premise, this piece of fiction is written from the perspective of Screwtape, a senior demon. Each chapter is a different letter he writes to his nephew, Wormwood, a junior tempter who has been charged with making sure his “patient”, an ordinary British man, ends up eternally in hell.

Like I said, a light and easy read.

It’s impossible to sum up all my thoughts and applications about this book into one essay. There’s too much. I’ll still be processing its implications well into summer, I shouldn’t wonder.

Instead, I think I’ll let the book speak for itself.

lewis

So, here are seven quotes that were, for me, the most thought-provoking, convicting, or revelatory (more likely, all three).

(A helpful tip: first person pronouns (we, us, our) and second person pronouns (you) are in reference to the demons, while third person pronouns (he, him) discuss the man being tempted.)

•••••

Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily ‘true’ or ‘false’, but as ‘academic’ or ‘practical’, ‘outworn’ or ‘contemporary’, conventional’ or ‘ruthless’. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, stark, or courageous–that is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.

•••

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

•••

One of our best weapons [is] contented worldliness.

•••

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

•••

Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will…The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.

•••

You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.

•••

Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him…build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth, which is just what we want.

•••••

There’s a New York Times commercial airing right now which you’ve likely seen. Now, I certainly don’t want to get into the politics behind its timing or its overall message, but I was struck today as I watched it because the last sentence to flash across the screen pretty succinctly sums up the main thing I took away from this book:

The truth is more important now than ever.

The battle for Truth is real (Lewis gave me an important reminder of this), and each day I must make a conscious choice to look for it in the right place and the right Person.

•••••

Now, in keeping with the long-standing tradition that I have newly created, I’d like to send my copy of The Screwtape Letters to someone for free. Books are worthless if you keep them to yourself. (Shout out to Courtney who got to add The Nightingale to her bookshelf!)

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s heavy and not very fun, but (more importantly) it’s important and thought-provoking.

So, if you want my copy (complete with the occasional highlighted phrase!), you can either

  1. Comment straight on this post.
  2. Comment on or reply to whatever social media outlet led you to this post.

Just throw up a few hand-raising emojis or tell me a book I can add to my list that will not stress me out or place heavy pressure upon my chest.

Note: I already started March’s book, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, so I’m not kidding: Happy. Books. Only.

the terrible twos: can we change the name?

The script is pretty predictable.

Surely I’m not the only person who has had the following conversation with a stranger in Target:

Oh, she’s so cute.

Thank you!

How old is she?

Two.

Oooooh, the terrible twos.

Now, I’m used to people saying unhelpful and/or unnecessary things to me in public, and it usually doesn’t bother me. These conversations are well-intentioned and genuine more often than not. Plus, I’m not one to turn down adult interaction of any kind any more.

This one though? Can we please call “The Terrible Twos” something else?

Why?

Because “The Terrible Twos” implies two things. Neither is true but both are easy to believe.

First, the phrase “terrible twos” suggests that there is a beginning and an end to this first hard stage of toddler-ing. That you just have to make it through this one terrible year and then you’re scot-free! That the terribleness will cease once that third birthday rolls around.

It’s also problematic because it can make you think that the terrible things only happen at age two, and I think the unfortunate side-effect of this one is that it gives some people a false sense of security.

These are the people who, when you tell them your kid is two, respond with an overly dramatic, “Oh, just wait. Three is way worse.”  

Now, I only know as much about parenting as a little over three and a half years can teach you.

(So, very little.)

But I do know something with utmost certainty:

You can’t avoid the terribles.

At least that’s what Jake and I have decided to call them.

organic

The tantrums. The power struggles. The point at which a light bulb turns on in your child’s head, and she realizes she can challenge your authority.

Maybe your kid will start to test your limits exactly at two. Maybe it’s two and a half. Maybe your kid is pushing three and a half and you think you’re in the clear.

You’re not, I’m sorry to say.

The terribles will come for you, too.

BUT (oh, for the love, of course there is a but), the terribles don’t have to beat you.

These kids of ours? The ones who throw 45 minute tantrums because of the color of a dinner plate or rip chunks of hair out of a sibling’s head?

(These are definitely not scenarios which I have witnessed firsthand.)

They have been entrusted to us. They are ours. And, if we don’t love them well, who will?

Plus, I’m also resolved to believe that the terribles will end.

That with consistency and grace and thoughtful correction, we can make it through this stage of parenting (relatively) unscathed.

At least, people tell me this, and I’d like to believe they aren’t lying to me.

But also, we’re starting to see the shiny side of consistency and follow-through with one kid, and it. is. refreshing.

And just in time for another to start toeing the lines of obedience.

The terribles are coming for her too.

And even though I don’t know exactly how long the phase will last and that it likely won’t be over in a single year, I do know that we will come out on the other side better versions of ourselves (especially the toddler).

And that I won’t ever call them “The Terrible Twos” again.

Who’s with me?

thoughts on fiction and reality (and also a giveaway!)

I set a pretty intangible goal for myself in this new year with the whole “pray for hard things to change me” business.

And, while it’s one of the better resolutions I’ve ever set for myself, I also made a tangible one (I love a good SMART goal as much as the next, people).

Read (at least) one book a month.

So far? So good.

Although, I almost didn’t make it because I literally chose the most stressful book of all the books: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

I know, I know. I can’t believe I hadn’t already read it either.

love.png

This particular novel is historical fiction, and, in its briefest terms, follows two sisters as they struggle to survive the German occupation of France throughout WWII.

It only took two chapters for me to realize I was going to read the entire thing with bated breath.

You likely know by now that I am a naturally angsty (my second favorite adjective) person. I don’t disconnect wires very well. When I think about something, I also think about how it connects to everything else I am also thinking about.

Anyway, I was telling Jake about the book a few nights ago, and as I tried to convey just how anxious I was about where the story was going, he responded as anyone would expect him to:

“You know it isn’t real, right?”

And I’ve been thinking about that question a lot since.

Of course I know that it isn’t real. The characters were fictional. It was a novel, after all.

But a good novel, I think, blurs that line between fiction and reality. And, you can’t reinvent the human condition. Love and sacrifice and fear? They are real even if a story is not.

I’ve been thinking a lot about love and sacrifice and fear lately. Wondering what exactly my responsibility is in the numerous small-scale and global problems I see or hear about on a daily basis. Feeling vastly insignificant in my desire and ability to incite change. I’m only one person after all.

But my wires crossed while I was reading The Nightingale yesterday.

In the end, fifty years after the end of the war, one of the characters (no spoilers!) remarks:

It strikes me suddenly: These are the families of the men who were saved. Every man saved came home to create a family: more people who owed their lives to a girl and her father and their friends.¹

I think the ripple effect is real, and I honestly hope that someday I get to look back on my life and see how far-reaching each moment was. To especially see the things that felt insignificant at the time and the lasting impact they had for the Kingdom.

To see how love and sacrifice and fear worked together to make a difference.

A large-scale impact can start small after all.

And that’s a reality I hope never to blur.

•••••

Now, here’s something fun: I’d like to give away my copy of The Nightingale. What good is the literary experience if you don’t share it with others?

Also, I’d like this book to wreck somebody else’s life for a few days like it did mine (you’re welcome and I’m sorry in advance).

If you’d like my copy, there are two ways you can let me know:

  1. You can comment on this post.
  2. You can comment on or reply to whatever social media outlet led you to this post.

Whatever route you choose, either type in a few hand-raising emojis OR tell me a good, non-stressful book to read next. Goodness knows my blood pressure can’t take another one like this for awhile.

I’ll put all your names in a hat and make Jake draw one out Friday!

weddings, birthdays & more.png


¹ I altered this quote slightly so as not to spoil one of the plot lines.

you CAN just be whelmed.

I’ve been feeling whelmed lately.

Yes, of course, this is a cultural reference from the late 1900s.

Specifically, it’s a nod to the acclaimed 1999 hit, 10 Things I Hate About You¹ in which high schooler Chastity wonders aloud, “I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”

Anyway, Chastity, you can be.

The end.

Oh, sorry. You were hoping for something shorter this time?

I realized it the other day. It was 7:30 and all our kids were in the bed (all the praise hands for that one – we’re getting there when it comes to sleep!).

Jake and I were sitting on the couch, and I was trying to put words to an anxiousness I had been feeling.

And as we talked through it, Jake articulated exactly how I had been feeling: equal parts underwhelmed and overwhelmed.

So, whelmed.

The life of a parent is as such.

It’s underwhelming because every day is exactly the same. The same regimen of wake times and meals and toys and bedtimes and negotiations (while being sprinkled with the periodic play date or library story time, of course). And then the weekend comes–those days of rest you used to live for–and nothing changes. You do it all again.

But it’s also overwhelming, and I feel this at the end of each of these predictable days of preschool transit and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I wonder if I’m doing a good enough job. Am I loving them well enough? Am I offering them enough undivided attention? Are they eating too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

(Answer: Yes, of course they are. Whatever, okay?)

So whelmed, although I will admit this to be my own personal definition, is somewhere in the middle.

grow.jpg

I suspect I’m not the only one to feel this way. To go through my days spinning my wheels a little as I try to balance the enormity that is life with the ordinary, particularly simple things that are present all the same.

The more I think about it though, the more I have decided that my general “whelming” feelings aren’t so bad because they keep me rooted in the things that matter.

On one hand, the place in the middle reminds me to love my people well in the simple and understated moments. To unplug from my distractions and pay attention (which is, unfortunately, easier said than done). To engage with them and listen to them and really be with them.

On the other hand, those moments in which I begin to feel overwhelmed are important too because there is a world outside our home that I will one day send our kids into, and the only people wholly responsible for preparing them to face that world are Jake and me.

I want to feel the weight of that because I want to do it well. I want their love and compassion and kindness someday to be rooted in the eternal. To be saturated with Truth.

Which is something that certainly won’t happen by accident or happenstance.

free (2).png

So, in the end, I guess I don’t really hate feeling whelmed.

Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.


¹ Great news: 10 Things I Hate About You IS ON NETFLIX. (In case anyone was wondering what we’re doing tonight.)

in case anyone else is as tired as i am.

Tired is the new status quo over here.

In the past four months, I can count on one hand the number of times I have slept for longer than two hours at a time before being awoken for one reason (a baby who hasn’t quite figured nighttime sleep out yet) or another (the three-year-old who forgets how to cover herself up with her blanket in the middle of the night).

You might think I’m exaggerating for effect, but Jake can back me up on this one because he sleeps about as well as I do. And, if you need further evidence, you can reference the two pounds of coffee I buy every other week.

I know we’re not the only ones living in a constant state of exhaustion. I also know that the fact that we can attribute this exhaustion to our children is indeed something to be thankful for. Please know that I’m not complaining.

Rather, I’m trying to establish our baseline. It is an indisputable fact that Jake and I are tired pretty much all the time. And it can be frustrating to feel tired all the time.

(Sleep deprivation hardly brings out your best qualities, after all.)

Now, as you might remember, I’m trying to shift my perspective this year. To focus on letting  the hard things change me instead of praying for the hard things to change.

So, in light of that, here’s what God had to say about my current state of exhaustion:

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.¹

He doesn’t promise me sleep, but He does promise rest for my soul.²

come-to-me-all-who-labor-and-are-heavy-laden-and-i-will-give-you-rest-29-take-my-yoke-upon-you-and-learn-from-me-for-i-am-gentle-and-lowly-in-heart-and-you-will-find-rest-for-your-souls

My physical body may be tired, but my soul doesn’t have to be.

That. That is something of hope when you’re dragging yourself out of bed for the fifth time in the middle of the night. When your alarm goes off two hours earlier than you wish it would. When you just. can’t. catch. up.

There’s hope. Always hope.

And, tonight I feel restored in knowing that exhaustion can’t touch things like joy or peace (to name a few). There is rest for my soul.

So that’s where I’m at. Tired but satisfied. Sleep-deprived but replenished. Exhausted but well-rested.

Wondering if I’ll ever sleep through the night again (of course I know I will. This is the part where I exaggerate for effect.) but also feeling rejuvenated because I’ve been promised a more important rest.

The most important rest.

And hopefully that’s what I’ll remind myself of when I reach for that third cup of coffee tomorrow.


¹ Jeremiah 31:25

² Matthew 11:28-29

new year. new prayer.

I didn’t start 2017 in a particularly good mood.

I usually like to think about fresh, white canvases and blank pages to write a new chapter of our story into on the first of the year.

Instead, I woke up in the thick of post-vacation chaos: suitcases and miscellaneous bags of things strewn all over the living room, piles of mail that needed attention, and kitchen countertops that I think were under the clutter somewhere.

And that’s not to mention the three tiny people in our house who were equally struggling to get back on rhythm.

I had a headache by 9 a.m.

And yet, headache or not (Oh, you thought it would have gone away by now?), the blank page remains. And, it’s not in my nature to ignore it.

It’s so easy for me to get bogged down and frustrated about this phase in my life. And lately, I’ve found myself praying things like, “Please help him sleep,” or “Please calm her down,” or “Please cancel the rest of residency for the year, so Jake can be home all the time to help me.”

And then, this week I was reminded of something I wrote a few months ago about finding value in the hard things.

So, I’ve decided this year, my resolution is to seek change for myself rather than from other people.

When it comes to the sleepless days and sleepless nights (all the coffee over here, people), I’ve decided to start praying for patience and strength and gratefulness that God chose me for these kids.

When it comes to said screaming kids, I’ve decided to start praying for wisdom and that God would help me know our kids, so I can love them well.

When it comes to residency, I’ve decided to keep praying that it would be cancelled because that, at least, seems pretty reasonable.

Solomon asked for wisdom, too. And, as we enter the new year, God’s response to his request gives me hope:

Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind.

in-paradise-1

So that’s where I’m at. Standing on the blank page of 2017 and knowing that when I look back on this chapter in a year, I’ll be a wiser, more patient, and better rested version of myself.

(I can still pray for sleep, right?)

Here’s to another year of choosing to live each day well. Who’s with me?