Saturday, December 17

The Only Thing Perfect About Christmas

um...yeah...not our cookies...pretty though!

     What would the month of December be without making and eating cookies? We had a major cookie bake-off here over the weekend that culminated by frosting and sprinkling cutouts at the counter at 9 a.m. this morning before we left for church. It is now 4 p.m. and I just tackled the majority of the dirty dishes that began on Friday night. Whew.

     The girls had a ton of fun making cookies, Daddy had a ton of fun eating cookies (he is our version of the cookie monster for sure!), and we wound up with some great tins and boxes of homemade treats to deliver to a couple of the neighbors later today.

     Scott and I did learn, or should I say, some truths about us were reinforced, through the entire experience...First and foremost, that he is by FAR a better baker than I...Everything he makes magically bakes to perfection, like something out of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

     Everything I make...we'll just say there is usually an issue or two along the way. Like our first batch of cut outs...

   Let me start by telling you our kitchen was TRASHED! It was Scott and I and three little girls (our next door neighbor's daughter joined us) and there was flour, and dough scraps flying around the kitchen with tornado force momentum.

     It was quite a mess.

     A fantastic mess, in my opinion, given the amount of laughter and the smiles that emerged, but a mess nonetheless.

     Scott was not so excited about the mess at first...he, like many dads I not used to how much of a mess kids make when they do things like bake, or make crafts, but he slowly warmed up to it when I told him to "think like an artist" (My code word for let's create and be happy and deal with the mess's all part of the process!).

     That said, in between the clouds of flour and shards of falling cookie dough we managed to burn an entire tray of cookies beyond edibility...because, well, I was supposed to be monitoring them in the oven and I was a bit...well...distracted by the goings on around me.

    Grrrr. That's when I get crabby. Guess why?


     Those darned little things.

     Ironically, I'm o.k. with a completely trashed kitchen, but when my cookies burn, watch out!

    At which point Scott prompted me with, "Lisa, we've done as well as we could given the situation.  It's o.k."

    You can see why we need each other.

    The thing is, I had visions of sugar plums and beautifully decorated cookies, dancing in my head. Beautifully decorated cookies that I was going to arrange just so on plates to give to my neighbors to say Merry Christmas.

     (The next night, to top it off, I botched the peppermint bark too (Two years in a row I might add!!! White chocolate does not melt the way the online recipes claim it does...either that or I'm doing something wrong!)).

     I was tempted to say it was all not good...skip the neighborly cookie plates...bah humbug to burnt Christmas cookies and unsightly peppermint bark.

     And then I remembered that I tend to do this. That if things don't turn out just so,  that I can tend to discard the entire experience as no good, instead of finding value in the situation. If you saw my house on any given day you would not guess that I have perfectionist tendencies, but they do sneak up every now and then in my day to day tasks. When things don't go as planned I can tend to get discouraged instead of pressing on and making the most of things as they are.

     I have small kids. Things do not go as planned all that often. You'd think I'd have figured this out by now.

     We have plenty of good cookies. I'll use the peppermint bark that did turn out. The neighbors aren't going to care anyways. Heck, they may end up throwing half the plate of cookies away because they have too many around the house! It will have been the thought that counted. It will have been that we stopped by their house, remembered them, said Merry Christmas and connected, if ever so briefly with them during a very busy time of year.

     I think I sometimes treat the Christmas season, the entire month of December actually,  like I treated my cookie making escapades...a few bad moments and I'm ready to chalk the whole Christmas experience up to "not the way I would have liked it to be" and in the process I forgo some of the joy I could be experiencing.

     Life is not perfect. Every moment during the month of December is not going to be perfect. Chances are that every moment of Christmas day will not even be perfect...I'm sure there will be some moments (there always are at big family gatherings!) of short fuses, or whining children or food and drink spilling on a carpet.

     I was at a Christmas concert last weekend in which one of the performers talked about the gift of Jesus at Christmas time. He did not come to the world to save our perfect selves. He came to the world because we are imperfect and need some major help because, left to our own devices, well we'd pretty much be a lost cause.

    Jesus loves my cookie burning, bad housekeeping, disorganized and overwhelmed self.

     He loves me just as I am. He loves you just as you are.

     THAT is the TRUE beauty, meaning and spirit of Christmas. It's the ONLY thing you need to understand to experience Christmas in all of its glory. It's the only gift we really need.

     No matter how crazy the month gets, how awful (or good!) your cookies taste, what gifts you end up offering to friends and family...none of that changes what Christmas is actually about, and therefore, if you really think about it, the only thing that can "ruin" Christmas is your reaction to it. Because happy or crabby Jesus still came to this world because we needed a savior and I'd say that is something to rejoice about!

    So let me just implore you to remember that it doesn't matter if you check everything off of your to-do list this month, it doesn't matter if you've been less peaceful and joyful than you've hoped, it doesn't matter if you aren't "feeling" the Christmas spirit as you had anticipated you would or should after tree lightings and parties and concerts and cookies.

    None of it really matters.

    Just as in the classic song "Joy to the World"...Our Lord has come...Let earth RECEIVE her King.

    Hold out your hands...RECEIVE the gift  that is being offered...grace, love, joy, peace...a SAVIOR to meet you in all of your imperfections.

     Because he is the perfect gift.

     Merry Christmas!!!

    I look forward to connecting with again afterwards!

our not so bad (actually pretty cute!) neighborly goodie boxes!

Sunday, December 11

In the Details

     Details, details, details...I find fall and winter to be full of details as one holiday (didn’t we just go trick or treating yesterday?) seamlessly makes its way into the next…(only 2 weeks until Christmas…already?!!). Each holiday the rightful owner to particular traditions, decorations and holiday hoopla and each presenting itself with a long to-do list in the midst of already busy days and schedules. 

     I'm still working out what it means to shop for two children every the children grow, as the seasons change, the clothing needs change too. Where will we store the bathing suits, pool toys and rain coats while we make way for boots and shovels and mittens? And what about what won't fit next year, and what doesn't fit this year? Does it get stored? Will we have another child? Should I donate it? Where is the best place to spend the least money on all of the new stuff the girls need? 

     And that is just one small part of our lives? 

     All of these details are important, but they also overwhelm me at times (Me? Overhwhelmed?!)

     I was an o.k. manager of details when there were only mine to manage…I could pretty aptly manage my schedule on a weekly basis, I had my seasonal clothing storage figured out, I had an exercise routine and a writing routine and all sorts of other methods that worked out alright for the most part. You know, in my past life before getting married (which I love--don't get me wrong) and before having children (which I also love in a very disorganized way!).

     Enter husband…and a whole new set of details.

     Enter child no. 1 and a whole new set of details.

     Enter child no. 2 and a completely new set of details emerges.

     Enter tired, confused momma who doesn’t know where her keys are, or what day it is, or where in the world I might be able to find a matching pair of socks for myself on a given morning, let alone for two small children staring at me with big round eyes. Mommy? They seem to be saying. You’re going to dress us so that we don’t look like members of the local circus this morning, right?

     Well of course my dear children…now if only we could find your shoes…it’s snowing outside and the flip flops are just not cutting it anymore.

     Ladies and Gents…I’m swimming in details…and let’s just say I don’t feel like I was ever given the proper swim lessons to keep up on some days . The days when I’m barely keeping my head above water: The days I’m doggy paddling from one side of the pool to the other:  The days I use swimmies to take me down to the shallow end where I just stand staring at the folks who seem to be enjoying the deep end. It is there that I stop and think “What in the world am I doing wrong?” while I try to catch my breath and tell myself I’m still in the game as long as I’m still in the pool.

     The days I think, Well, now why in the world did I spend all that money on classes in art history and psychology and political science when what I really needed was several semesters worth of classes on time management, and household organization? 

     I know that sounds awfully 1950's housewifish of me...but truly, do you not agree? 

     Alright, this was supposed to be a post about Christmas…a reverent, spiritual, how am I staying connected to Christ in the Christmas season post...I'm getting to that part...

     So now that I've aired my piles of dirty laundry about how I'm swimming in the deep waters of details and feeling like I need a life preserver, here’s how I'm trying to stay present in the midst of the advent and Christmas season…In the middle of all of the details. 

     I know this sounds very cliche, but it is the only thing that works--In the middle of the flurries of details, I try to focus on what really matters. I try to focus on the present moment...the details of the very present moment. 

     Details like the delight in my girls eyes when they saw the snow on Friday morning and asked me to roll down their windows on the way to school so that they could eat it and then proclaim that it “tasted like freezie pops”.

     Like the unfettered enthusiasm that my four year old displayed when I pulled out the bin of ornaments this year and she exclaimed, “OH MOMMY! Let’s put these on the tree! They're BEAUTIFUL!”

     Like how they are both talking to me about Mary and baby Jesus and Joseph (or Jo-fuss as Ella says) as we do our ornament projects each day and pass nativity scenes and attend church services. 

     Their laughter, their smiles, the way Ava did Ella’s hair on Friday morning before school and declared that I was not to touch it! (It was a pretty funny mess of tangled hair, but I left the barrettes and the headband and the pony holders in place and simply told her teachers that her sister had done her hair that morning and that I was not taking credit…they smiled too!).

     Earlier this week I heard one of our pastor’s wives talking about being a mom-- how fast it goes and how we should try not to rush the days away. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard hundreds of times since becoming a mom…It’s a sentiment I need to hear over and over and over again.

     I got all teary and misty eyed because I know…I know how fast they have already grown. I KNOW how fast they will continue to grow. I KNOW I will be nostalgically wishing they were little again and that I will miss their round eyes, and chubby cheeks, and untainted delight over the details of Christmas.

      I KNOW I wish the days away too often.

     So even this weekend as I shop for snow boots and gifts and cookie decorating supplies and even  this morning as I glanced at a very messy playroom and said to my husband, “Oh dear honey…I’m sorry the house is always a mess…what am I doing wrong" I'm trying to be in the moments. The messy, busy moments. 

      And my husband, bless his heart, said the best thing he could say…

    “This IS OUR life babe.” Meaning, this is our messy, joy-filled blessed life, and it is good, and it is normal, and it is a season and it is OK.

    And so as I drove the girls to school on Friday morning and was feeling like I was starting to let my mind swirl about the details, I did the one thing that works well for me, I started to focus on the details of the moment…It’s a little game I play called the 5 Senses. What do you hear, feel, see, taste and smell in THIS moment?

    I heard laughter from the back seat, I felt a cool breeze on the back of my neck as the girls scooped the snow from the windows, I saw the snow dusting the trees like frosted sugar sprinkled from the sky, I felt the smooth leather of the steering wheel and I tasted my coffee, made by my husband.

    And then I stopped and gave thanks for all of them, for it was good, and THIS is the will of God. Giving thanks in everything, the clean and the messy, the clear and the fuzzy. I was convicted by the fact that I almost missed those gifts.

    And THIS is how we stay present in a busy, hectic and beautiful Christmas season. We stop and pay attention to the small details in the midst of the many more, and we give THANKS, joyful expressions of THANKS for them all.  And then we do it again, and again and again. And eventually we realize that life is not going to wait for us to have it all together to start taking place, but that it is happening right now. 


Saturday, December 3

Reflections on Christmas, Part 2: Are You Making Room?

There is a post-it note hanging on my refrigerator door. It says, "Are you making room?"

It is a gentle message on yellow paper, sketched in pen, to continuously remind myself to be doing the only thing that matters this month; making room for Jesus.

You see, I was reminded by Daniel Partner in a devotional book I have been reading called The Wonder of Christmas, that "The story of Bethlehem's crowded inn is a parable of the [modern] Christmas season."

We fill our hearts, and spend our time, and putter through our days shopping, and baking and prepping and running...the pace feels fast and the list seems long.

Ironically, as Joseph and Mary entered Bethlehem, the city was busy and crowded, everyone had gathered for the census and there was not enough room...not enough room in the inn...not enough room for a pregnant woman, her husband, and inevitably the baby. Of all the lives they were counting that day, this was a life that would truly count, whose birth would change the world. There was no room for them in the inn.

I don't want my life to bear modern day parallels to that inn so long ago...I don't want to look Jesus in the face and say, I'm sorry there is no room here, we are crowded and busy...I'm sorry.

So how do we make room?

We stop. We listen. We pray...oftentimes in the midst of the mess...and that is where it is hardest for me.

It is hard when the dishes peak out from the sink, and the laundry billows over the sides of baskets, clean but wrinkled and needing to be folded. It is hard when my day has been spent tending, tending, tending and I desperately just want to wiggle my nose to make the mess go away magically after the girls go to bed so that I can rest, and breathe. But, the mess is there and it will remain and I have choices to make...fold the laundry or make room for Jesus in the middle of it.

Oh my, it's so like Martha and Mary all the time, isn't it?

Do we strive to do more or stop at his feet?

And then I am reminded that while I'm spending all of this time waiting for the perfect house to have my perfect holy moment, Jesus was born in a stable...a messy, straw filled, dusty stable. And I have to stop and almost laugh aloud...if God wanted a picture of perfection could He have not ordained a way for Mary and Joseph to spend the night in a nicely groomed inn?

In this moment in which God is teaching me that my holy moments are going to happen in a messy house, because that is the season of life I am in, I am reminded of a point in Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand is one of the images that remains most vividly from my reading of the book. 

Ann has an incredibly holy moment as she is staring at the moon one night...a mountaintop experience, so to speak, in which she fully feels the glory of God in the light of the moon. It's beautiful, it's glorious, it's holy.

And then.

And then what seems like the very next morning, or at least the very next chapter, her son throws toast in his brother's face. 

Oh my goodness. I KNOW that moment...the glorious moment, followed by the toast moment and how I want to completely discredit the glorious moment because of the toast moment!!! 

How I feel the urge to discredit the intimate moments I've already had with God during this advent season, the moments when he has taught me about peace, and mess and a baby in a manger because the folded laundry ends up strewn on the floor or my four year old has a tantrum over a piece of chocolate. 

In the middle of Ann's toast moment she is angry and frustrated and asks herself, "Why? Can I just go back to the moon and the brazen glory?"

Oh my...I know that feeling...Can I just go back to the prayer moment, the peaceful place, the one where I felt connected to God and full of joy. 

She continues asking questions...working out her faith, "How do I have the holy vision in this mess?" 

Yes...Yes...Yes! It is the question I ask myself daily...How do I maintain my holy vision in all of this mess?!!

And the lesson that God seems to be prodding at my heart during this advent season is this-- that He gives us the holy moments not so that we can sit in them forever (that's what heaven is all about!), He gives us the holy moments so that they can ignite grace in the messy ones. 


We must continue to make space for Christ in our inns this season...and as we make space our hearts will be filled...and once our hearts are filled we might walk into a great big mess of sorts, and at that moment you will have a choice...let the holy moments have meant nothing or let them mean everything.

"Glory to God in the highest, 
     and on earth peace to men on 
         whom his favor rests." 
                                      Luke 2:14 

(This is the second of four Christmas posts that will be posted each Sunday this month. Besides these Christmas posts I am taking a blogging break until the new year! Merry Christmas.) 

Reflections on Christmas, Part 1
Why I'm Taking a Blogging Break

Tuesday, November 29

Reflections on Christmas, Part 1

Ava playing with some of her first Christmas toys...just about sums it up, huh?! 

     Christmas changes when you become a mom, doesn't it?

     The first couple of years are sweet and easy--the  baby smiles, eats wrapping paper, bangs haphazardly on the box of the toy you gave them, you hang the "First Christmas" ornament on the tree and take lots and lots of pictures.

     And then things start to get more complicated...even by the time they are, well, 3 or 4 in my case. Our minds become infiltrated with lofty desires to decorate the house, go out to see Santa in the mall, buy great gifts to ensure that their eyes light up when they open them.  We want to check out light displays, and make cookies for the swap at your mom's group. We go all out with the tree and perhaps even buy extra decorations for the outside of the house, all in the name of creating a Christmas our kids will remember...a magical experience.

     But what is it that we are wanting them to remember? 

     The magic? The excitement? The thrill of it all?

     Those are all fun things...but are they the real things?

     I thought I had the real meaning of Christmas hammered into my daughter's head last year (in the nicest way of course!)..."What is Christmas all about?" we would ask her compulsively, feeling a sense of pride as she answered correctly under the guise of watchful eyes.

     "Jesus' Birthday!" she would say.

    "Oh how cute," we'd all say smiling.

     We colored nativity scenes, put one on our kitchen window, read books about Christ and the little drummer boy and the manger.

      Fast forward 330 days or so.

      As we started seeing the lights again, and the blow up Santa's in the stores..."Do you know what Christmas is all about?" I asked, expecting her to know the answer.

     pause. pause. pause.

     Uh-oh, I thought.

     "Uh...Uh...Santa?" she said hesitantly (I'm thinking she guessed I was looking for something deeper by the look on my face, but it just wasn't coming to her 4 year old mind.)

      Argh! Gosh darned the man in the red suit. 

     "AVA! Really? Try again...."

     I probably overreacted a little...


     "It's Jesus' birthday!!!!!"

     "Ohhhhh.....right," she says.

     She's gotten it right ever since! However, it did stop me in my tracks. How did we miss that? How did she not remember? What can I do better this year so that her two year old sister remembers next year when initially asked, that the real reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate Christ.

     I'm not saying there is anything wrong with talking about Santa...we don't overdo it in our house--we lightly allude to the fact that mommy and daddy and Santa all drop a few gifts under the tree. We will stop and say hi to Santa in the mall, and joke about how he'll have to sneak in through the sliding glass door in back since we don't have a chimney.

     But light talk or not on our parts, our culture does such a great job talking up Santa, that even if we never said the name our kids are going to be slightly confused by everything they are seeing.

    So what are some proactive steps we, as parents can take? 

     Celebrate Jesus' Birthday. Fortunately, Ava is in a wonderful preschool this year that is going to be celebrating Christmas for what it really is. They have a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party planned their last week of school, and I am confident the story of Christ's birth will be strongly emphasized. I've heard of families making cakes and cupcakes to sing Happy Birthday, and have seen these very cute plates  in stores and on Amazon. We just might pick one up! 

     Create a Scripture Based Advent Calendar. A friend of mine (Sarah Ehret should get full credit for this...she is a wonderfully creative mom!) shared an idea that I have been thinking about...they have an advent calendar in which they place a different part of scripture from the story of Christmas in each of the boxes. Their girls pull the scripture out and read a new verse for each day and then re-read  the pieces they've already read.  Sarah said that by Christmas last year her daughter nearly had the story memorized. How cool is that?!

     Consider Investing in good Resources.  I  downloaded this wonderful e-book from Amanda, the author, spent many years in full time children's ministry before having her own children-- her passion, talent and God given skills for connecting with kids through crafts and scripture are so evident in this book. As I said to my husband to defend any skepticism about spending $4.99 on an e-book..."I just spent $4.75 on an eggnog latte at Starbucks (which I think is ABSURD by the might be my last!), isn't it a better use of money to spend $4.99 on something that will help me to engage our kids for the entire month in a meaningful way?"
     He fully agreed. (If you're husband's giving you the funny money "eye", I give you permission  to use my line!).

   There are tons of resources out there...Be deliberate to spend a little bit of money to buy something that will have a big impact. Heaven knows we spend plenty of dollars on stuff that doesn't! 

     Read and Play. Other than that, we will try to read lots of books and I'm thinking about picking up a "playable" nativity scene (Melissa and Doug makes one). We will also be sure to read the Christmas story on Christmas morning (a tradition from my own parents ALWAYS read the Christmas story to us before we were allowed to open gifts...well, in our later years anyway).

     My hope is that next November, as we see the first evidence of Christmas in the way of lights and decorations, and I ask my daughter..."Hey babe, what's Christmas all about?" that there will be no pause or hesitation...that she will simply and enthusiastically say, "Jesus Birthday!"

      I suppose I can say honestly that of all the tasks and goals I hope to accomplish this month...that the most important is to instill reflections that last longer than the month of December and that there is eternal significance in our Christmas worship. 

     Do share...what are some your favorite ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season?! 

(This post is the first of four (and only four!) that I will offer in December. Check in every Sunday between now and Christmas for more Reflections on Christmas.)


If you'd like to read the many wonderful ways women around the country are preparing their hearts and their children's hearts for Christmas, click on the image below, scroll to the bottom of the post and check out their blog posts about "preparing". 

Monday, November 28

Coming Soon...Advent Posts

Hi Friends!
     Yes, it's me, your bloggy friend, writing from my blogging sabbatical.

     I'm here to tell you that I'm going to be blogging in December (yay!). But on very limited terms (once a week) and about just one topic: Christmas.

     I was feeling like the month of December is too important to go by without writing about it (since writing is how I process life!), and that as long as my writing is limited (so that I can focus on my family, faith and home), and that it is truly an act of worship (about how I'm trying to keep my eye on Christ in the Christmas season), that it would be o.k. for me to share with you a few thoughts about my Christmas experience from a spiritual perspective.

     As a woman of faith, and a mother to small children, I have found myself contemplating, anticipating and bracing for the craziness of the next four weeks...Here's the thing, the most significant thing that I'd like to accomplish by the end of December is to feel Christmas... its truest meaning, in its most sacred form, and to let the next four weeks be a time of real worship.

    I fear getting to the end of December feeling tired, and empty and frenzied and glad that it is over...If that's how I feel, if that's how you feel, at the end of this very sacred month...then friends, we are doing something wrong...very, very wrong.

    So, here's the post a week between now and Christmas, and then one the week after Christmas to let you know how it has all gone. In the process I'd love if you'd share your thoughts, either at the bottom of the posts in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter, about your own journey and experiences leading up to Christmas.

    Let's encourage each other to buy less and bond more, to run less and rest more, to feel frenzied less and faithful more...What good is all of this blogging, and connecting and interneting if we are not using it to move each other into better places and spaces. Right?!

     The first of the four posts will be up tomorrow....Advent: Have You Made Room?, and the next three will come each Sunday afterwards.

     Here's to preparing our hearts, our homes and our children's hearts to experience the beauty of Christmas the way it was meant to be.



Tuesday, November 22

Giving Thanks

photo taken from: Country Living

"For each new morning with its light...
         ...for the rest and shelter of the night...
         ...for health and food...
         ...for love and friends...
         ...for everything Thy goodness sends."  
                                            Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, November 6

Cleaning House...A Temporary Blogging Break


     Hello friends and faithful blog readers (who are mostly, um, my sister, my best friends, my sister in law and mother in law!)...You ladies rock!

     Well, it's been almost two years since Little Writer Momma found its way into cyberspace...Two years of my crazy days as a mom, random life moments, thoughts on fellowship with God and many other silly, thoughtful and funny moments in between.

     I've enjoyed every minute (or post!) of it. Blogging has been a great outlet and exercise in regular writing for me. It has been a way to capture moments, milestones, and emotions. It has been a way for me to connect with other women who I may otherwise have never met, and a way for people who know me best to get to know me even more deeply (even my husband who said, "Lis, I feel like I know you even better after reading your blog posts).

     So, for all of those things I am very thankful!

     It is also for all of those reasons that although, for a while, even though I've felt as if I might need a little blogging break I've persisted...until now.

     Yes, I'm taking a break. I know, I know, it's like your therapist telling you they're leaving you...I promise you'll be o.k. And it's only temporary...I swear! I'm sure you'll all survive without the stories of my preschoolers peeing on floors and stomping on toads and running rampant through grocery stores.

     A friend from my MOPS (mothers of preschoolers for those who don't know!) recently said "I read x, y and z blog when I need something calm, collected and beautiful. I go to Lisa's blog when my day has been nutty and crazy and all over the place because I know hers has been too!"

     Haha! That was the purpose all make ya'll feel like you're not alone in the craziness of motherhood.

     It will still be the purpose when I return...I swear. Just hopefully with more focus and panache (whatever that's really just a cool word that I've always wanted to use and never had a chance to!).

     My hubby, who cracks me up, did not believe me when I told him that I wasn't going to blog for a while...I think he might have actually rolled his a good, loving and funny, "Lis, c'mon just give it a couple of days" kind of way.

        "Seriously honey," I said, "I feel like God is telling me to take a break. That it has become a distraction from some of the more important things that I should be focusing on and that it has also become something I never wanted it to be."

      "It's like you're telling me you're not going to use your left leg for the next 7 weeks...I'm just surprised"

     Yes, blogging has become that much a part of my life. And perhaps that is why I am taking a break. 
     "I get it," Scott said, "Sometimes when things become so close to us we need to take a step back."  

     Also, when I prayed about my writing (several months ago) and for direction in this area, guess what I felt like God said...

     "Clean your house." 

      "Say what? I'm asking about writing, not my house, what direction should I pursue with my writing." 

     "Your house...clean your house..."


      In summary, here is what I feel like God was saying...

"Lis, I know you have a big heart and passion to communicate to others. I know that you love interviewing people and writing about them and writing for others about your life...and I have plans for you...because not only do I know, I created those desires...That said, in order for you to fully pursue your passions in the way you'd like to, in the way I'd like you to be able to, you need to get your home life in order."

     At the time, I was taking on a few more freelance projects, doing the MOPS newsletter and trying to post frequently on my blog. I figured if I just pulled back on the freelance work I'd feel better about where I was...

     It didn't work that way...I simply started blogging more and filling my life with other things. 

     Then I attended that wonderful blogging/writing conference last weekend. And, it was wonderful and insightful, but I've got to tell was a little overwhelming too...

     I heard stats like that there are 6 million mom blogs out there! Some of the women at the conference have thousands of followers...Some of those women  blog and tweet and connect with thousands of other women daily! And for some of them it has become a full time job ( there are women who are supporting their entire families on what they make from their blogs!). 

      All of that is great, and God is using a lot of them in cool ways, and I am happy for them (maybe happily jealous sometimes, but happy nonetheless!)...But I just felt like it was something I couldn't keep up with...the levels at which they are producing posts and content and connecting socially...maybe I'm not supposed to either but my thinking got a little off track...

       How in the world am I supposed to keep up with all of this? I found myself asking. This is like a hamster wheel (and sometimes feels like a popularity contest (sometimes...)) that I can't compete with. 

     Thoughts of...eeekkk....high-school! came flooding back...insecurity, inadequacy...yadda, yadda, yadda...

     I'm done going there. To the high-school emotional place that is...God has done such great work in my life since then that I don't need to go to that place anymore. When things start to make me feel that way I retreat from those things for a gain perspective...just like being away from high-school for 15 years has finally allowed some wonderful perspective on some hurtful moments...

     alright, so now I'm getting all blah, blah, blah on you...

     In conclusion...I'm taking a break to clean my get my file folders in order, and the mound of clothes in my basement. To make the pediatric dentist appointment for Ava that I should have made months ago. To get a plan in place for meals and taking care of the house and investing in my children the way I want to and should be doing. To bring order to my closets and my mudroom and to be able to invest in the Thanksgiving and Christmas season in a tangible and intentional way. 

     Sometimes even good things (like blogging), get in the way of other good things and you have to figure out your priorities for a time. 

     I'm looking forward to re-joining all of the blogging craziness in the new year-- hopefully from a more organized place (my home), with more focus (my mind) and more inspired. I will update my "365" page (see the top of my blog) in early Dec. as promised, but that's it until January. 

     In the meantime, I'd love to know what all of you who have been reading so consistently, think...Which posts have been your favorites? What do you come to this space looking for (a laugh? inspiration? simply to know you are not alone in the chaos?)? How can I better serve you? 

     Hugs to you all. Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas. See you in the New Year! 

P.S. If you happen to be stopping by for the first time, thank you! and hope to see/hear from you again!!! If you click the links in the sidebar to follow LittleWriterMom on twitter or Little Writer Momma on Facebook you'll be sure to know when I'm back and kickin' (!). 

Friday, November 4

5 Minute Fridays: Remember

(This post is in conjunction with "5 Minute Fridays" sponsored by the Gypsy Mama. Every Friday she offers a one word prompt, and hundreds of bloggers join her in writing for just 5 minutes, unedited, whatever comes to exercise in teaching ourselves be freer writers! Join in (if you have a blog) or join here to read whatever comes to mind!)


God said to me...the other day while I was out for a run...and I started remembering when I was in my early 20's and pursing everything I thought I wanted...

A career in publishing, an apartment in Cambridge, M.A.  near some very, very, very smart people who were attending a little University called Harvard...I was thin, and had time to exercise, and cook great meals and snuggle with my husband, and my clothes size...gasp...4 clothes! I felt confident and on my "way" what? I don't know, but I was where I thought I wanted to be...

It  was where I wanted to be...

Perhaps it wasn't exactly where God wanted me to be...

So that day, while I was running, i was thinking about all of those things...perhaps in a spirit of reminiscence, perhaps from a place of longing (if ONLY I could wear a size 4 jeans again), perhaps in a spirit of discouragement because this new job of 4 1/2 years....this being a stay at home mom, makes me feel undone, unqualified, uncertain...and unidentifiable some days....

and then God said...

Lisa, what if you are closer all of your tiredness, in all of your chaos, in all of your confusion, to being closer to where I want you to be than you ever, ever, ever were as that 22 year old girl who thought she was right where SHE wanted to be...


God is doing a work in my heart. A work in my life. My work was an outer work...things the world would see. His work is deep,  internal, it is a soul work...and while it feels uncomfortable and strange and disorienting some days...He has placed a hope that I will emerge from my cocoon...

In a beauty that HE wants the world to see...

This post was my first attempt at "5 Minute Friday!"...a challenge put on by Gypsy Mama to write, unedited in just 5 minutes!!! 

Thursday, November 3

Is This Illegal?

Check out this picture...

Who parks like that? On the curb?!!! Outside of Target?!!!

Surely it was some crazy woman driver who does not know how to park a large vehicle. 

Here is a photo of the driver....

She's trying to hide her face...but surely you can identify the culprit here...

I'm not sure which was worse, that she left her car like that while she ran into the store or that she had the audacity to take a picture of her car like that in the middle of a public place. 

When a momma's husband goes out and buys a large "man" car because it has a lot of cool buttons inside but it's a little bit hard to park because it's way bigger than anything else they've owned, and said momma needs to grab sandwiches at the grocery store before she picks up her daughter from preschool at noon...and it is 11:53 when she pulls into the parking lot, momma is going to do whatever it takes to get things done...a.k.a. take the spot closest to the store that is right next to curb, and requires turning at a very odd angle to get into...desperate times call for desperate measures. 

The best part is momma's husband's reaction...

"Well, it IS a Land Rover."

He was so proud...

Monday, October 31

A Postion of Prayer


      I got down on my hands and knees in the middle of my living room to pray this morning.

     I hesitate to even share this because it was such a beautiful, intimate moment with God and sometimes the world of the web seems so very far from beautiful and intimate.

     Having just returned from a blogging and writing conference this past weekend I feel even more acutely that the internet, and all that we are distracted from in it, can be SO far from holy sometimes. But God uses all to bring Him Glory, and can use the internet too... so I pray that this post would meet your heart in a holy place today...that it is not one more thing to distract you from taking care of your children, or loving your husband, or meeting with God...but that it would ultimately prod you to do all of those things more fully...

     I went to this conference this weekend hoping to learn how to become a better writer...

     I came home wanting to love Jesus more fully. Wanting to be a better wife and a better mother.

     Love how God does that. Takes what we think we need and turns it into a way to teach us what He needs from us. To teach us what we really need...and how far it sometimes is from what we think we need.

     So this morning I awoke early to steal some moments from a quiet house. I was praying...writing...thinking...reading...praying and eventually felt compelled to get out of my chair.

     First I thought it was my mind being my silly mind.

     "No. This is fine. That's silly."

     The feeling persisted.

     So I folded my hands and bowed my head low in my lap. Surely this was a more holy way to meet God.

    The feeling persisted.

    I got on my knees, next to my chair and rested my elbows on the cushions. Surely this was a more holy way to meet God.

    Alright, I won't lie here...the chair stunk. Like gym class. It's an old was my husband's great- grandfathers, passed down to his mom, passed  to us. It's been reupholstered, but it is still old. Many have sat, my kids stinky feet have stood. It smelled like gym class and morning breath.

     Surely this was NOT a more holy way to meet God.

    And so I moved to the floor. I got on my knees and bowed my head low. I felt silly and humbled...and realized NOW I was ready to go before God. He low...a place worthy enough to pray.

     The truth...again...I was initially pretty distracted.

     My kids are going to pitter patter down those stairs any moment. "Mom!" They will say, "Are you o.k?" They will surely think I've finally lost my mind. 

     Or my husband's heavier footsteps, "Lis, What's up? You o.k.?"

     Or my mother in law who was also sleeping upstairs. Surely I don't want my mother in law to think I've lost it...(Although she is certainly reading this and I love her greatly!).

     "Oh honey...are you o.k.?" I can hear her say.

     "Yes everyone. I'm o.k." I said in my mind. "I'm actually more than o.k. now that I am on the floor."

     I thought for a moment about an image I saw this image of a gathering of middle easterners all bowed low...they get on the floor five times a day to worship a god who doesn't even speak back...what we can learn from that!

     I tried to pray. I was still distracted. All that moving around, and thinking about people walking in on me, and the newness of being on my knees. So I started the way I start when I'm distracted...I started with the words Jesus gave us to use in prayer...

     "Our Father, who art in heaven...Hallowed! Praise! Praise! Praise! to your name (sometimes I improvise!).
     Thy Kingdom come...Thy will be done...
      On on my dirty living room it is in heaven!"

     I finished the Lord's prayer and we went on to have a great dialogue...Me on the floor looking up to my father like a small child on the floor looking to their parent for guidance and instruction...

     It was good. It was right. It was holy.

     And no one even came down the stairs....

Wednesday, October 26

Which Way do We Go?

       Does it feel like life perpetually brings you to points in which you are forced to stop and consider your options, make choices, choose between to alternatives: That that we are in a place that we have to ask the question, "Which way do I go?"

     It's what Dorothy asks in the Wizard of Oz when she comes to a crossroads and meets the scarecrow. They too are all looking for something meaningful, but which way?

     Always questions...always wondering...always taking steps down the path, hoping that it is the right one. Which job to take, should we move or stay, should we have another child, what would life look like if we did, where should your children go to preschool, then school, should mom/dad work part-time, full-time, or not at all for a time? 

     The list goes on and on...

     And, as my husband once said to me, "Sometimes you don't know which way is the right way until you choose one and find out if it is right or wrong."

    Oh dear...that's a nail biter for me...I like to get things right. So, you mean, that there are times in my life that I might have to get it wrong...just to get it right?! 

     Ack! Not sure if this sometimes type A momma can handle that!

    Life has been full of "which way do I go questions" lately.

    Nothing major...we're not talking job transfers, or houses for sale, or major school issues...

It mostly has to do with my writing...If I'm totally honest, sometimes I miss working. I get to asking myself all sorts of questions when this feeling comes around; do I venture out to find a part-time job in which I would be writing daily in a tangible way (a newsletter for an organization, marketing materials, part-time freelance for local publications, etc.), do I keep blogging and what should that look like, do I venture out and try to start writing an outline for several...(gasp!) ideas...

        Do I just learn to be totally content at home and stop thinking about this all of the time?! (Don't answer that!)

        How is it best to use my time? the end of the day it all comes down to what is purpose...are there ways for us to be involved in our greater communities, to reach people beyond our own homes? 

     I don't mean to go getting all philosophical here, but I really think that in all of us there is is a desire to be connecting with and reaching out to the world in someway that is significant...something beyond ourselves and the little corner of the world that we live in. 

     For me it is observing life, writing about it and than trying to figure out how to communicate my thoughts, impressions and curiosity to the world. For my husband, it is playing worship music in our church. Others are passionate about taking care of nature and spending time in it, others about animals or caring for the elderly, or helping people stay healthy, or teaching people new skills. 

     I'm a thinker. I think about these things a LOT. It drives me crazy. I think it drives some of closest friends and family members crazy too.

     Here's the thing...we only have one life to live and I want to get it right. Consider the following quote from the very insightful teacher and thinking Parker Palmer. I heard Palmer speak at a conference in Grand Rapids, MI last spring. He spoke on purpose and how he maneuvered through finding his place in life. In is book "Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation" he says:

"Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you."

     What is my life saying? Yours?

     Man, it feels like mine is saying a whole lot of 'please clean the house, and wash the laundry, and clean the floor that looks like a high-school football team has trampled across it and please make food and clean up afterwards, and fold some more laundry and run some more errands,' lately.

     But it is saying other things as well...especially since I've begun to pray about it.

     I've been praying a very similar prayer ever since first becoming a mother, "Dear God, I love my children and I'm grateful to be able to stay at home with them, but please, please, puhleaze!!! help me to figure out how to do life with kids while simultaneously pursuing other passions and interests."

     I haven't been hearing a ton of answers to that prayer...mostly what seemed like silence...though I suppose silence is a type of answer.

     And then I found this book (to know me is to know there is always a book!)

     The book is called "The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You've Always Wanted" by Kathi Lipp.

     So first things first...nothing happens in 21 days in the life of a mom with 2 preschoolers.

    Just sayin'.

    I'm kind of taking the book at my own pace, doing the chapters as I can. That said, this book has been incredibly helpful and full of good insight and wisdom. 

    First and foremost it's a reminder that while it may be called the "Me"'s really not about me. It's about the gifts and experiences God created me with and how HE ultimately wants to use them.


     So it starts by asking some good questions. Namely, the title of "Project 1": 'What do you want from Me? Knowing God's Will for All the Parts of Your Life."

     Lipp prompts you to go through your motives, your desires, your past experiences and search for details that may give you a clue to what God wants to do with you. She also has you write down ALL of the dreams, passions and desires that you  have for yourself...even if they seem frivolous.

    She encourages you to start paying attention to what is happening in your life, to be praying fervently for God to speak and then to be recording what you feel like He might be saying. She also urges her readers to get rid of some of the distractions in their lives.

     What has this looked like for me?

     Well, until I am done with the book I have committed cutting out all recreational t.v. on my part...that is, after the kids go to bed I cannot watch junk t.v., crappy reruns, or the silly reality television programs that I can tend to get sucked into.

     Also, no radio when I'm in the car by myself.

     I have promised myself to use my time at night more productively; working on goal writing, essay writing, blog writing, or reading.

    The time in the car...that's prayer time.

     I even fasted a meal last week...I know you may think that doesn't sound like a big deal, but believe was a BIG deal for this constantly hungry momma.

     Guess what?

     All sorts of cool little things have been happening...I told you about a couple of answered prayers in my post last week...Mostly, I simply feel like God is speaking...He is inspiring me with new ideas, using mentors in my life to help me focus my thoughts, and even little things like bringing me completely unknowingly to a printer (for a business card I'm having printed for the conference this weekend) who happens to attend our church...something small, but a reminder that "I am here. I am in this."


     He is teaching me to trust. He is teaching me which ideas to follow. He is helping me to wade through the varied thoughts and ideas in my brain and showing me where to focus. He is showing me when I need to be loving my kids and when it is o.k. for me to be focusing on other things.

     It's like the verse in Matthew 7

      "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you"

    If you're asking from the right place, the right heart, God may just have some answers that surprise you.

     So, if you feel like you have a heart for playing music, or to connect more strongly with your community, or perhaps you're considering a job opportunity, or a homeschooling opportunity or a ministry opportunity...start asking God to open doors in that area. 

    For me, it is writing. And, it is with a prayerful, curious and slightly anxious heart (I'll admit!) that I  am getting ready to leave for this conference in PA this weekend. It's an interesting opportunity...a church friend and I are attending with press passes...which means we get to go in and check everything out, but we're not full fledged conference attendees...

     I was thrilled but then just a little skeptical...just a little...I swear (I kind of wanted some of the conference freebies that the real attendees get, among other things!! Silly, I know!) but, because I've done so much praying about open doors to this conference I know that if this is the way God has chosen for me to attend, well then by all means...let's see what He has in store.

     So, we head out on Thursday morning, from Buffalo to P.A. asking 'which way do we go'... Who will we meet, who will we talk to, how will you use us to help tell life's bigger stories?

     I'm looking forward to sharing some of the discoveries when I return!