Dreaming within our means (repost)

I posted this a couple years ago and keep revisiting it in my mind lately, while this kitchen – dining – bathroom takes over my life.  I realized it wasn’t posted here from my old blog so I’m sharing it again. I come to the same conclusion: I am so very thankful. My house is an ongoing challenge but I love it. I’m so grateful for the gift of this place in my life. As my sister said the other day, “No one loves their shack as much as you do.” I think she’s on to something.

September 2013 – Buying this new old house and having a zillion projects I want to do all at one time- with limited time and within a limited budget has gotten me thinking a lot about what it means to live within my means. And furthermore, to dream within my means. Sure, it would be awesome to re-side the house instead of this big ole painting the exterior project. But it isn’t in the budget right now. Instead I will bust my behind, scrape paint till I can’t move my hand, spend every spare minute painting, and buy maybe five years with the current siding. And I’m not unhappy with it. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it is work I am capable of and can afford. It will preserve the house and do the job I need done. All within my means. And in that delicious yellow that I love so much.


Upstairs I would love to gut the whole thing, put in some new windows, new drywall, new flooring, etc.  But that isn’t within my grasp right now. Over time, I have some ideas about things I’d love to do, but for now, I will stalk the clearance paint aisles, paint the bedrooms, put in some better flooring, and be pleased with the progress within my means right now.

I realized recently that it is unreasonable of me to dream within other people’s means. Oh I’m not saying no one helps me or is generous with their time or talent, just that it isn’t fair to require friends to donate copious amounts of their time and talent to make my dream come true. I will certainly accept help and maybe sometimes even ask for it (like that top part of the house I can’t reach from the ladder), but keeping in mind that my friends and family have lives of their own, projects of their own, things to do.

And I have to say, it doesn’t feel like a great suffering. I’m blessed to be in this house that I love, blessed with talent (or at least determination) to tackle a lot of things myself, and dreaming within my means is actually kind of a safety net for myself and helps me be content and grateful with the blessings within reach.

God is good.

I saw Jesus

I was grocery shopping on Friday night – a tragically bad time to grocery shop. I’ve noticed I get a little road ragey in the grocery store after work. It is always a bad time because everyone else is there and somehow it is usually when I squeeze it in because it is convenient and on my way home. Tonight was no different.

Anyway, the aisles are filled with all sorts of people: Moms with kids in the cart, dad with the two shrieking kids that he’s taking down the candy aisle to bribe them into submission (no judgment, I almost had to do that for myself), people grabbing three things, people with carts full. And then I passed a guy who looked to be around 50 with an elderly man. As a person who helps care for caregivers, I see these people now in ways I’ve never seen them before.

I have taken my own Grandpa to the store many times (back when Gram needed an hour off in the apartment days). He was always confused and slightly nervous we wouldn’t find anything and cheerfully asking every passerby where to find the (fill in the blank). I wasn’t a caregiver per se, but a team member, an involved family member.  Confused grocery shopping is not for the faint of heart (and it can be a huge stretch for the introvert who doesn’t want to ask every other shopper where to find the milk).

Now when I grocery shop (and everywhere else I go), I see these people. In this case, this guy looked to be taking his elderly father shopping. Dad was confused. Not unpleasant, but it took a long time for him to make decisions. “Dementia,” I thought to myself, “the early stages. I remember those days.” I passed them a few times, and heard the son (presumably) say a couple of times “Didn’t we just get (fill in the blank) when we went shopping yesterday?” “Oh. Maybe we did.” Dad looks at the Oat Bran on the shelf for a long time, looks back at his son and says reluctantly, “I suppose we can put this one back.” He is clearly trying to remember but unable to recall. My heart hurts a little just watching, and the son kindly guides Dad down the next aisle.

These people move me to tears nowadays. These people, the caregivers among us, are the unsung heroes. In days gone past, it was normal to be caring for elderly parents and grandparents in people’s homes. Now it seems to be more normal to put them in a care facility. Don’t get me wrong, I think sometimes a nursing home is the right place for our beloved elderly. What makes me sad though is a cultural shift where we no longer consider them our beloved elderly. We consider them a nuisance. A distraction from our own (more important) lives. Something to work around. As I watch these men shopping together, I can’t help but think this is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen today.

I am just as guilty as the next guy of always having a to do list a mile long and trying to be super productive. Let me just say from experience, grocery shopping with an elderly relative is anything but productive or efficient. Being part of this tender journey toward the end of life with my grandparents has changed me for the better. I’ve had to learn to slow down to help care for Grandpa, to love on him. It has changed my perspective on what it means to accompany another on their journey at the end of their life. We can’t run from the suffering. We can’t medicate it away. We can’t solve it. We are all frail and our time here is passing. And we are all heading toward our own end — with no way to know what our own end is going to look like. Love is the only answer.

My grandpa hasn’t known my name in a long time but he knows me. He recognizes me as someone who loves him. I have no way of knowing when he won’t recognize me at all any more, but even that doesn’t change the mission.

“This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
“Honor your father and your mother (and grandfather and grandmother) that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12
Today, at the grocery store, I saw Jesus. I saw Him in the son caring for his father. I saw Him in the elderly man who was terribly confused about breakfast cereal. And I saw Jesus in the love between the two of them.
We all know that we live in a fallen world and we see sadness and tragedy around us everywhere we go. But if we look closely, we might just catch a glimpse of Jesus.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Simple Pleasures

Pulling an old draft from the archives – because it is still so applicable. 

This past week (back in May) was stressful on all fronts. I had been hoping to take a week off and go visit friends out of town and go to a friend’s ordination. Things at work are unraveling, too much work, too many deadlines, not enough reliable help. I can’t find a dog sitter. It is all just too much. So I sadly cancelled my travel plans and though I was super disappointed, I also realized that I get to choose how to respond. I can be bummed and let it ruin the next week for me, or I can embrace the hectic reality in my life and job right now and make the best of it. I choose the latter.

Of course in the midst of a lot of stress at work, two members of my parish died and were buried. The first, a mother of four young children, died of cancer. Her funeral was very moving. She was a woman of great faith and her funeral was gut wrenchingly sad and also full of hope. Seeing her family – her husband and kids- and thinking about the journey they are facing right now puts my own hardships into perspective. Seeing and hearing how she lived her life to the end gives me inspiration and fresh energy to look at what exactly Jesus is asking of me and to do it with renewed hope.

On Thursday night, a friend came over and we were just catching up and visiting. He asked if I was going to a soccer game and out afterward with a bunch of my (young and single) friends that weekend.

“Nope,” I heard myself say, “I’ve got a compost date with a friend.”

Which sounds like the lamest reason ever except that it isn’t. My friend and I had been planning on procuring a trailer load of compost to split between us for weeks and the stars had aligned and the trailer was available and by golly, I can’t think of a single thing I’d rather do on a gorgeous Friday evening than shovel dirt with one of my dearest friends.

Wow, I thought to myself, I am as old and boring as they come. … and strangely, I am completely at peace with that. I don’t need exciting outings and concerts and nights on the town. I am content with the simple (while complicated) life I’m building. Not to mention being thrilled to be sharing this journey with some of the best people I know. That is no small gift.

Saturday morning that same friend and I garage sale binged for the morning – finding some amazing deals on both of our lists (and something for my cousin and something for my brother from their lists). Booyah. It was a gorgeous morning to be out in the sunshine and with one of those people that just always makes my life better by her being in it. Again, glamorous? Nope. But absolutely delightful. Simple pleasures.

Sunday I went to my brother’s house after Mass. Had a lovely brunch and then changed into grubby clothes for some real fun. We installed the rose trellis for the climbing roses – my two year old nephew had the important job of handing me the screws “I tink you need another one!” He hands me a screw and then quickly backs up before I turn the scary drill on. We fixed a loose deck rail, and then we got to the real fun of the day — foundation repairs. Since neither of us had done it before, we checked out the problem, debated about the proper solution for awhile and then got started. We made a run to the Blue Store for supplies. My dad popped over and confirmed our solution was a good one (score!). And we spent the next couple hours hammering decaying cinder block pieces, mortaring new bricks into the holes, and chatting about life.

 You know what? I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not because the work was particularly glamorous, but because the company was terrific. In my recent pondering about friendships and what intentional community looks like, I keep coming back to this: Intentional community is looking for ways to share in each other’s details. Fixing foundations, hauling compost, picking up sticks, being real about the struggles we face, and sharing a lot of life and laughter in between rather than bemoaning a life full of details and responsibility.

I am so thankful for the gift of sharing time with the people I love and I find that the more I embrace that, the more richly I am blessed in these simple pleasures.



IMG_2758The idea of savoring the good things keeps coming back to me on these cold, gray days.

savor (transitive verb)
  1. to give flavor to :  season
  2. a :  to have experience of :  taste  b:  to taste or smell with pleasure :  relish c:  to delight in:  enjoy <savoring the moment>

Certainly, we all know what it is to savor a good meal. You don’t want it to end. You chew that last morsel of a good steak slowly, enjoying every last bit of it. Or you eat your pie slowly, enjoying the experience and the taste to the very end. I’ve been thinking about life in terms of savoring and noticing and being grateful for the moments, the burst of flavor. Not blazing by them without noticing, but savoring what there is to savor.

I don’t want to savor everything, mind you. Some things I’d be just as happy to blow right by without noticing, but those other moments – reading a story on the couch to a kid who just wants to snuggle with you. Enjoying the look in Grandpa’s eye when he recognizes you and is delighted to see you (even if he can’t remember your name anymore). Curling up in a fuzzy blanket to read on a Sunday afternoon. The beautiful patterns of stain glass with the sun shining through. The quiet stillness of an empty church, just you and Jesus. That time the puppy flipped over while jumping for her ball, sending you into peals of uncontrollable laughter. Drinking a hot cup of coffee in your PJs while watching the snow slowly fall from the sky. Those (and so many more) are the kind of moments I want to savor, live and taste fully, and to be grateful for the beauty in each one.

Lots of articles talked about the concept of gezellig, the way people enjoy winter in the Netherlands. I’m a loooonnnngggggg way from truly enjoying winter but this month I am intentionally taking time to look for those things in my life that I’m thankful for, that I want to pause and appreciate. Life moves faster and faster, and I want to really savor the things I can and should, so I can appreciate this moment for the gift that it is.
In the last couple weeks, here’s my savorables:

Smiles and jokes with my niece Gloria at dinner a couple weeks ago. She’s such a funny little person (20 months old) and even with a fairly small vocabulary, that girl can tease and joke around. I saw her again at Mass on Saturday and she very seriously helped me retrieve the baskets for the collection. I love her and enjoy the moments we can spend together. Such a delightful, funny little person.

A cozy evening with my grandma two weeks ago. I miss seeing her every week since I’ve been spending more time with my grandpa at my parents house and making it down to visit her less. She is such a sweet, feisty, and all around terrific lady and in a tough spot of watching her husband fading and facing her own limitations (recent hip replacement, arthritis, macular degeneration that has her nearly blind). As we’ve done regularly in the past few years, we question the right situation for her and grandpa. Where they should be, what help we need to care for them. Grandpa is living with my parents and she is very lonely and also starting to realize how insecure it feels to be alone much of the time (even with home health aide coming morning and night for meds, showers, and other assistance). We had a very real and raw discussion of these things– she asked me direct questions about what I thought, and I gave her direct and honest answers. Loving but not beating around the bush. We both cried a couple times. It made me so incredibly thankful for this lady and the role she has in my life, and that in the past decade she has gone from being just my grandma to being one of my dear friends as well. What an incomparable gift.

Similarly, I spend an evening a week with my grandpa who is living with my parents. He is such a dear and sweet man. While his memory is fading fast, he is kind and sweet and loves his people. And he loves me.  The other night while I was over, he told me “You’re the only one I have fun with.” Ha! With no short term memory, anyone he is with is the one he has fun with, but I still appreciate the sentiment. He was tired but didn’t want to go to bed, so after a few games of pool, several episodes of his favorite Lawrence Welk show, and then some more pool, “Come sit with me on the couch.” For a girl that doesn’t sit often, spending time with Grandpa is sometimes a challenge in that I have to leave my bustling productive self behind and just BE. And it is good. It reminds me of Jesus telling Martha, “Martha Martha, you are anxious and troubled over many things. Mary has chosen the better part (siting at the feet of Jesus).” Sometimes sitting with Grandpa and holding his hand while he tries to stay awake (and discusses my marriage prospects or lack thereof on a two minute repeating cycle) is exactly where I am supposed to be. It is a very real call to radical love and laying down my life for someone else. And I leave each visit knowing I have indeed encountered the person of Jesus and am filled with more grace and inspiration for my own journey.

Candles and tea and blankets, oh my! I unearthed some candles that had been packed since my move and have been burning them whenever I’m home. I love it!! It is cozy and smells yummy and makes me feel better about an evening cooped up indoors. (And sometimes a candle leaks and spills all over my puppy who was trying to gobble up the wax on the floor). I’ve always been a big fan of candles and pulling them out and lighting them has improved my mood somehow and made cold winter evenings just a little bit better.

Warm blankets. Totally worth the hype. My upstairs is heated by space heaters (read: not heated most of the time) so going up to the chilly upstairs and climbing into bed always makes me grateful for a warm comforter, for fleece pajamas, for the heating pad to warm me up. Yes, the room is chilly, but I sleep so deeply and so well in there under my pile of cozy.

The gift of friendship. After being kind of anti-social for the first part of January (which is how introverts recover from a very busy and social Christmas season), the last few weeks have been catching up with a lot of people. Lots on the calendar, lots of visiting, so many wonderful people in my life to be thankful for and savor the time spent together.

What are you savoring today?

Intentional Community

friends3I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of intentional community and relationships for a long time. What does it mean to be intentional about the community we surround ourselves with?

I know I’ve said it over and over again that I am blown away at the depth of relationships in my life and the quality people I am blessed to consider my friends. Does this mean it is always easy? Let me assure you, it isn’t. Does this just happen because I have gobs of time and so do all my friends? It doesn’t. Deep abiding friendships aren’t something that I happened to stumble into. I don’t think community works like that. Sure, some of my friends have been my friends for decades. Others were long time acquaintances that have become dear friends. Still others are people I’ve met very recently and decided I want to be friends with.

DSC_0528I believe that in order to be part of a close community of friends, we first have to be good community. We have to actually be the kind of friend people want in their lives. I’m not saying we need to be someone we aren’t, but I am saying we have to intentionally be a friend to people we want in our lives.

We can’t blame other people for not being good enough community or support if we are not that friend ourselves. I’ve realized that friendships are one of those things that we have to take responsibility for. We have an important part to play and can’t put the blame on someone else if we don’t have meaningful friendships. Similarly, if we let a friendship stray into unhealthy territory or if we continue to foster unhealthy relationships, we have responsibility there as well. Not full responsibility for everything (heavens no) but rather we are a key player in a friendship. If things are going south or not going at all, we should look at our part in that.

CK puppiesI think friendships are an important investment of our time, energy, and ultimately our heart. If we invest in healthy friendships, when we hit a rough patch, those friends help us get through it. But I always come back to the realization that friendships are and have to be a two way street. Friendships where one person always carries the other but can’t rely on the other are not actually friendships. That is a circle of acquaintances. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have acquaintances – people we enjoy and spend time with on occasion — nothing wrong with that as long as both parties share that expectation.

We all have a lot going on in life. Challenges, heart break, things that overwhelm us. Choosing to invest in relationships is work and we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that they just happen automatically. And there are many many variables in our friendships: How and where we spend time. What we do together. What level of intimate sharing we do. SO many variables and as far as I can tell, there’s no right way. It is entirely dependent on the people involved. But it seems to me that both parties need to be involved in order for it to work.  In my experience, I have never regretted spending the time invested in genuine friendship. I’ve certainly been hurt in friendships and felt rejected and abandoned. I’ve been in unhealthy relationships that sucked the life out of me. And I’ve been blessed with some of the best people in the world who love me and support me and keep me on track.

How do you foster intentional community in your life?

My theme for 2016

DSC_0059I’ve been wrestling with a word or phrase for 2016.

In 2015, I used “Be Your Best.” I’m not sure I can say I was wildly successful, but I did give it my best and think I gained some new skills and new insights about the importance of self care, which is good if one is to even have a chance at being their best. I would say that I participated and engaged my life, learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and had enough trials and tribulations to encourage growth and to remind me that I am not in control.

Are you ready for this?

Deliberate 2016.

Deliberate de·lib·er·at·edde·lib·er·at·ing
intransitive verb: to think about or discuss issues and decisions carefully
transitive verb: to think about deliberately and often with formal discussion before reaching a decision

At times (more often than I like to admit) I commit to things that later come back to bite me. I like to think it is because I am an optimistic, generous, fun loving person who thinks sure, this would be great! And then later I realize I should have put some limits on it, or thought through more thoroughly before plunging ahead. Or perhaps thinking for just one minute about how adding one more thing into my overly scheduled life would make me feel the next day. Right. So this year I want to be deliberate – both with the ways that I DO spend my time and energy, and the things I deliberately do NOT spend time and energy on.

I am going to be intentional and deliberate about setting and maintaining healthy boundaries.

I am going to serve others: not always doing the thing everyone wants (because I cannot do it all) but very deliberately discerning what Jesus is asking me to do, and doing that. And learning to be at peace with not being able to solve everything for everyone (I say this out loud and it sounds silly, but it is a real struggle for me).

I am going to embrace the poverty of limitations.

I am going to continue to make time and space for the people and genuine friendships in my life.

I am not going to take responsibility for other people’s poor decisions and the ramifications of those decisions. I am not going to make time and space for unnecessary drama. I am going to walk away physically, mentally, and emotionally (why is this SO HARD sometimes???)

I am going to work on taking care of myself (spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically). “Secure your own mask before helping someone else with theirs.” We hear it on every single flight we’ve been on and yet I am so incredibly bad at the real life version of this. I have been known to bend over backward to help someone else with their problem (dilemma, project, etc) while my own things are left to languish. (Not that it is always a mistake to help a friend in need, but I think some really good deliberation before volunteering for such projects is important). I need to take an honest look at what is going to give on my end before I commit to solving someone else’s life (and once I again, I have to be at peace when I can’t or shouldn’t get involved).

I am going to trust the good Lord to hold on to me and guide me on this journey. Because it is all part of the journey, baby steps in our walk to eternity. I know that I am going to stumble and fall and probably get a bruise or two in the process, but I know that the One that I am seeking is faithful in all. He will give me the grace and wisdom I need to follow him.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15: 4-5

Priceless Gifts

friends6In 2015, I was, once again, blown away with gratitude for the gift of my friends. I mean really blown away. I am constantly in awe when I look around me at the quality of the people who are willing to share their lives and their families with me. Being single can be a lonely road, and I certainly struggle with my fair share of it, but then I look around at the community around me and am filled with gratitude and awe at God’s goodness.


friends1There are times I love a good, intense spiritual discussion. Other times I love a stupid conversation when people are being just incredibly ridiculous and oh so very funny. (And strangely, I love a conversation that includes both). I love to talk projects, dreams, goals, survival strategies. Above all, I am lifted up by people that are real, honest, and down to earth. People who share the details of their lives and listen when I need to share my own. And I love friends who can help me laugh, particularly at the details, the mundane, the ridiculous (and let’s face it, there’s a lot that falls into this category). Laughter is often the best medicine and I am blessed with some incredibly funny people that keep me laughing.


friends4On a deeper level, I am so blessed with friends who remind me about what is important in life and help me find the way when I can’t. It is such a gift to share this journey with so many faithful and genuine people.
For each one of you who made a little space in your life for this crazy gal, I thank you. For the emails, the voxes, the card nights, the birthday parties, the late nights on the couch, the lazy days at the beach, the Saturdays of working together. For the movie nights, art nights, craft nights, nights on the town. For inviting me into your homes and letting me “aunt” your munchkins. For all of those moments: Thank you.


Thank you for accepting me the way I am, flawed, ridiculous, taking life too seriously at times, tired, weary, and full of impossible dreams and ideas. Thanks for giving me room to be me. Above all, thanks for being you and for sharing that with me. The gift of your friendship is what makes my life so rich.


The Life-cycle of our Choices

DSC_4942Lately I have been pondering the many choices we all have in walking through this life of ours. When I’m hiking in the woods, I choose to take the right or left path. If I’m in familiar territory, I have an idea of where each will take me. And if I’m in a new place, sometimes it feels like a crapshoot. Who knows? There are people who stop at that fork in the path frozen in indecision over not knowing what to do. Being a rather decisive person (I am always more comfortable having decided- even if it is the wrong decision), I pick a path and plunge full steam ahead.

Likewise in life, there are many, many, many forks in our path. Some seem very clear and some not clear at all. Lately I keep hearing people talk as though they are a victim of their lives, of their own choices. No one reaches out. No one helps. No one understands. I have to do this. Or attend that. So and so needs this from me or wants this from me. Admittedly, I fall into this myself at times. When we see ourselves as simply a victim of circumstances, we cannot make positive changes or move forward. Believe me, I’ve been stuck there before and will undoubtedly get stuck there again. But I am amazed at the freedom of realizing that we are generally in our circumstances by choice. Not because we specifically thought “Well this one will bite me in the butt, I think I’ll go there” but rather by the small choices leading up to the sometimes daunting consequences or sometimes by refusing to make positive steps to avoid situations that we don’t need in our lives.

I have been reminded over and over again just how many choices we have to make, big and small. And that we usually have ourselves to blame when those choices bear fruit- whether good or bad. I chose to do this thing, which impacts me in this way. It really helps me look at my life in a more honest, reality-based light and gives me much to consider in future choices.

Example: I chose to start working on the upstairs hall in February, knowing it would be a rather intensive project. I painted the walls and ceilings, ripped out the old floor, got the new floor installed, and am still irritated by the fact that it isn’t done. However, at the beginning of the project I knew that I wouldn’t be around for a couple weekends in March, which would greatly impact my ability to get it finished in a timely manner. And I chose to proceed with it anyway because I wanted to get it underway and convinced myself I could deal with a partially done job without a problem. I can blame my involvement with Life Teen (which I chose), or my silent retreat (which I chose), or that I spend time with my grandparents (which I chose), or that I spent Thursday night cleaning the house for such and such a thing (which I chose). Mmm hmm. I chose this. And I have no grounds to be irritated. Embrace the reality, and the life-cycle of this particular choice, and move forward.

DSC_4990Maybe moving forward means being more careful in our future choices. Not committing to that additional activity. Or maybe it means intentionally scheduling more time at home. Or not buying a fixer upper. Or deciding to live with an orange hall and a broken floor for another year. The choice is mine. The choices that you make are yours, as are the fruits of those choices. Often for me the first step in embracing reality and doing better in the future, is first embracing my own part in choosing to be in the current situation. Once I recognize that, it frees me. I am not a victim. I made choices to get here. And once I have a healthy respect for that, I am able to take the next step to move forward.

Embracing Reality and Letting Go

IMG_6364I really wanted to start my own seeds this year. Okay honestly I really want to start them every year. And for a few years, back in the Nichols Homestead days, I did manage to grow my plants from seed. Pat yourself on the back, Reenie, you’ve successfully done it before.

And now give your old friend Reality a big hug and let go of the idea that this is the year to make that happen. It isn’t. You are going to garden (hooray!), but you aren’t together enough to start things from seed indoors this year. Let it go.

And maybe, just maybe, we can even let go of this mistaken notion that is has to do with how “together” you are. Or even that somehow starting things from seed makes you a better person (I mean obviously it makes you a thriftier person, but whatevs). Maybe in embracing reality today, we can acknowledge the other things going on that you have chosen that have taken priority over being the earthy crunchiest thriftiest gardener alive. Would you really choose planting things from seed over the time you spend with your dear and aging grandparents? You can plant seeds any year but the grandparents are here for a limited time. Would you choose planting seeds over the new flooring and renovations in the upstairs hallway which desperately needed to happen? Over spending time with family? Over another overnight with the greatest kids alive? Over meaningful friendships? Over ministering to teens at youth group? What is it that you’re willing to give up so that you can be the earthy crunchiest thriftiest gardener alive?


Hello Reality. Thank you for that.

I think sometimes we need to just stop in our busy lives, stop beating ourselves up for whatever that thing is today, and embrace reality. Embrace the things we have chosen and let go of the things we cannot make room for because of those choices. We cannot do it all. And we certainly cannot do it all well.

This past Advent I was praying about what God wanted to do in my life, what He wanted from me for Christmas. And more clearly than I usually hear God, I heard this: “I want you to give up self condemnation.”

Wait what?

I stopped in my tracks. Self condemnation??? I don’t actually think of myself as a person that struggles with that. I am generally happy with who I am. I am not stuck obsessing about what people think of me or what I’m doing with my life. Sure there are a million things I want to improve about myself, but self condemnation? Are you sure you mean me?

We are now in the middle of Lent and I am still unpacking that request one day at a time. Today letting go of self condemnation is letting go of wanting to plant my garden plants from seed and condemning myself for not being “together” enough to do it. Weird. Trivial. Even ridiculous. Yes. And as weird, trivial, and ridiculous as it is, it is harder than you’d think. Today I choose to let it go and be content with my limitations. To embrace the choices and commitments I’ve made that make adding this one thing into the mix impossible. And maybe even to embrace those limitations as part of my path to holiness.

What are you letting go of today?


Antsy for Spring

DSC_2780This is definitely some kind of new record for me: I got to halfway through February before beginning to feel DESPERATE for spring. But it is now hitting with a vengeance. That intense need for spring. I was flipping through photos this weekend and found some from summer. Remember summer? Back when we were outside? Grass underfoot. Birds singing. Sweating my life away clearing brush for a lot of fencing. Driving with the windows open. Sleeping with the windows open. Living with the windows open! I want a life where I can leave the windows open again!! Sure, maybe there was a skunk or two in there too—but ohmygosh SUMMER. I’d take a skunky dog right now if it meant warmer weather and consistently seeing the sun.


It probably doesn’t help that it has been a very cold and very snowy month. February: The longest shortest month every single year. This past week the wind chills have been consistently below zero. It is the kind of cold that sinks right into your bones and makes you want spring in the worst way. Take heart though, we are more than halfway through February, people. We are almost there!! That means a couple more weeks of true solid (and if the forecast is to be believed very cold) winter. After that we’re into March.DSC_4976


The good thing about March is that it sounds more like spring, even though it won’t feel like it. But maybe we won’t be below zero for the whole month. And maybe by the end of the month, the snow will melt enough for the dogs to begin tracking mud through the house (how sad is it that the idea of mud in the house makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside?). Maybe by the end of March I’ll find those crocus bulbs I planted poking up through the snowy cold earth. March is not one of my favorite months—because it is still mostly winter, but what March has that February lacks is hope. Hope that spring is actually coming.