A favorite TV romance, all the love for A.Ham, and the rest of January 2018

Yay, it's my birthday month! (I always say that I feel like God knew I would love the treat of having my birthday in the middle of winter to help me get through since I'm such a summer-lover. Of course, we're not having very wintery weather this year anyway here, so I'm pretty content with winter right now....)

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Anyway! January 2018 has come and gone, and I thought it would be fun to do a little recap (feels like something from the "old" days of blogging). So here's the latest from my neck o' the woods (and kitchen tour coming soon!). 

Reading

I had a good start to the year, despite my goal of reading less this year (to make room for more creating & producing). Check out what I've been reading over on GoodReads

Writing

I am still loving my current project, which is a YA novel. I'm almost 30k words in and I feel like I'm getting into the exciting part so I find my characters ruminating in my mind a lot and beckoning me to come back to Scrivener and spend time unraveling their story more and more. I really only get time to work on writing during about half the week so I'm trying hard to dedicate myself to prioritizing it on those days when I can. 

Eating

Sourdough, sourdough, sourdough (can't stop, won't stop)! I'm thinking of curating my favorite resources and info and writing up a post about my sourdough journey. Stay tuned! Also, I recently re-fell in love with this soup

On a related note, does anyone else have anxiety about their favorite recipes living online? Every time I open a favorite pin and jump to someone's blog, I say to myself, I should really write this recipe down. So maybe that's a new 2018 goal. Because a couple of recipes I love have disappeared from the interwebs and I've had to ad-lib. Sad! 

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Wearing

Hopefully this isn't TMI but I just ordered my first Third Love bras and they are so nice! (Especially since it turns out I needed a 1/2 cup size, which explains why I normally have such a hard time finding a good fit.) Have you tried them? (If you want to try them out, too, you can use my referral code for $15 off (https://share.thirdlove.com/x/qvyUfr). That's what I did, too. Thanks, Melissa!)

Also, I got a new Dodgers shirt so I am ready for our Spring Training trip to Arizona.

Educating

You may have seen on IG that Gigi came back to the homeschool/charter school to join the other kids again. It's been a great two weeks of having everyone on the same schedule and having more time to pour into her heart again. We are approaching my favorite part of the Story of the World timeline (volume 2), and reading lots of good books these days. 

Watching & Listening

We are making our way through The Office (again) and I am again reminded how Jim and Pam's love story is one of my favorites ever. All the subtle looks and tension. Would that I could write romance like that. Also, that show is just so darn funny. (And it helps me cope with my inability to withstand such social awkardness like Michael creates.) Also Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix (!)-- We love him; glad he's back for more traveling and eating.

I saw Hamilton this month (THANK YOU MOM) and let's just say when my sister--in-law told me it would be life-changing, I sort of thought she was exaggerating, but nope! Nope, she was right. It was so amazing. I told my mom I might not want to ever see another musical. I'm sure that will pass (and I hope to see The Greatest Showman next week) in time, but I just can't get over Lin-Manuel's genius and how I feel all the emotions of it and the #immigrantsgetthejobdone way down deep in my heart. 

Also, Timeless comes back in March and my friend Rena gave me the season 1 DVD (early, accidentally, because I saw it in her room, LOL), and I will be rewatching that this month to prepare. 

I got way behind on podcasts over the holidays but I'm slowing catching up on my faves SortaAwesome and The Simple Show, and What Should I Read Next is, of course, always in my ear buds. When I need a gospel-kick-in-the-pants, my go-to is Risen Motherhood. Planning to listen to Launch with John August very soon, too.

As for music, I've been listening to lots of 90s music while I write, along with soundtracks, way too much Kidzbop for my liking (strongly considering a Spotify family account in the near future), and Havana, which I have all the heart ears (is that a thing?) for.

Bonus tidbit: it's been several years of long hair but I'm going to trim things up soon. Don't try to talk me out of it or show me pictures of Joanna Gaines because it's time. :) 

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Happy February! 

Working hard and making room

I made that choice, when the next glass of milk was spilled,
to choose a thriving response, rather than the surviving one.
— Joanna Gaines

We all go through these seasons, right? Thriving and surviving? Or maybe, like that quote I loved in Chip & Joanna's book, The Magnolia Story, there more like moments than seasons. I feel that-- each day, I make both choices to thrive and to survive. 

I've been thinking a lot about hard work lately, partly due to an essay Mindy Kaling wrote in her second book (which I just enjoyed listening to on audio). I have a lot of dreams, but am I willing to actually do the hard work to accomplish any of them? 

It's usually easier for me to either a) just be lazy, or b) let life scatter me, mess up my direction, and throw me into survival mode. Which, let's be honest, is usually just me, once again, being lazy.

We do have a new puppy in the house and a lot of other stuff going on-- both on the schedule and in our hearts-- but all those things become excuses for me. The truth is, if I want to thrive in my quotidian life and in my dreams, I really do have to buck up a bit. 

So this is me calling myself out. To do the hard work, and make the choice which is often the tougher one for me, responding in a thriving way, not a surviving way to the curve balls that come my way.

Surviving is yelling at my kids when they spill milk; thriving is taking a deep breath and dealing with the inconvenience calmly.

Surviving is talking a lot about writing but spending my bits of free time doing who knows what; thriving is using my time wisely and doing the dang thing, as Leslie from Blue Crush would say.

Because here's the thing. Thriving means my life is full of light. It's full of peace that transcends understanding, and a gospel-centered (not self-centered) life. It's full of living life to its fullest instead of mindlessly wading through the muck. 

Have I been reading too many dystopic novels? Maybe. But I really don't want to be a mindless drone. I want to grab my life and make the most of it. I want to tell stories and let stories fill my soul and make my mind think deeper thoughts. 

I'm determined to start making room for light in my life. Making room for thriving. Making room for doing hard work and hopefully accomplishing some things that I feel like God has called me to do. 

In another blogging life, I would have started an upbeat series about all the ways I'm making room in my life. But I know myself better these days; I know that I'm not known for following through on that sort of thing.

And also, I have other things I want to spend my words on (like finishing the last 5 chapters of my novel's first draft. And starting another one. And another one. See? Lots of dreams).

I do want to share the process with you though. I think I'll be more successful that way.

In most contexts, I think I'm what Gretchen Rubin would call an Obliger, which is to say, feel free to hold me accountable to this.

And if you want to join me in trying to thrive and do hard work, even if that means making room for it by saying no to other things, I'd love to walk through this together.

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You may consider sharing bits and pieces of this on Instagram with the hashtag #makingroomforlight. I'd love to see what this looks like for you. I'll try to do the same thing. 

Let's do the hard work; let's make room for light and see what shines through.

Delighting in the days

delight-2 In January, I chose delight as my word for the year. I'm never very good with followthrough and this one word exercise is usually no different. But recently as I thought about how I was feeling these days with our lovely summer and our new fall rhythm/schedule/day-to-day life, I realized that things had been quite... delightful... and that without particularly trying, I had in fact been delighting.

Last spring was hard. I felt like a chicken with my head cut-off with three kids doing three different things school-wise, plus sports, church, and other activities. It was crazy. I felt like if I could just make it through till summer; it was a season with little delight in some ways, but it was also a season of embracing my writing life right where it is, and pressing on and moving forward intentionally, which is in its own way, a form of delighting.

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Through the chaos, and then into the peace of summer, my delight in the Lord has been strong though. This year I've taken on a Bible reading plan that my church recommended and it has kept me in the word consistently. My prayer life has been lacking still this year, but in reading the word I have felt a growth which is powerful.

Summer was beyond delightful. Beach days, camping trips, long days, family camp (ahhh-mazing!), swimming, barbecuing, reading, baseball, relaxation, concerts (Coldplay!) time with family and sweet friends-- it was all the lovely things of summer that I adore-- the very definition of delight, thank you, Jesus. I was incredibly sad to see it go, as much as I always love the start of a new school year.

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And as we've entered the new fall season, a season which can bring with it chaos and busyness, I'm delighted to say that things have, amazingly enough, not gotten out of hand, and in fact, I'm quite delighting in our days and enjoying the rhythm of things right now.

We now homeschool three days in a row (Monday through Wednesday), and then, the kids all go to school all day on Thursday and Friday, a gift to this mama that has brought blessings galore in just the first month. Lunches, brunches, coffees, mama outings, peaceful errands, days to clean and prep, writing time, and moments of quiet have been amazing.

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I'm relishing this time and trying my best to use it wisely and keep it from getting over-scheduled. And just like I expected, it actually has me looking forward to our next homeschool days... and despite all the solo-time benefits, even missing my kids a tiny bit. ;)  For our family, and for me, it is the perfect fit.

So all this to say, even though many days I'm still tired (from knowingly burning the candle at both ends) and there are still overwhelming moments and feelings of inadequacies and frustrations with schoolwork and parenting challenges galore...

There is amidst it all a strange feeling of r e s t.

There is p e a c e.

There is d e l i g h t.

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And there is gratitude. I'm very thankful for this season, and for the ways the Lord, in His grace, has orchestrated this time. May I use it for His glory.

10 on 10: February 2015

Finding the beauty in the ordinary today with Rebekah and all the other 10-on-10-ers is always an exercise I appreciate. As I go back through my photos from the day, wading through the under- and over- exposed shots (this is my first 10 on 10 set shot completely in Manual-- aside from a couple of iPhone photos), I find myself feel grateful and seeing the blessings in a packed-full day. A day not without challenges, but full of bits of beauty nonetheless.

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1. coffee and the word and prayer cards. 2. sweet siblings reading together (lots of fighting came later so clinging on to this moment). 3. potato soup in the crock pot. 4. dressing up the map with love (+ a gift from a sweet friend proclaiming my passion for our dining area). 5 & 6. building masterpieces with the littles. 7.  gigi learning a new skill (first ukulele lesson today!)*. 8. hanging out with this lady during gigi's lesson, while brody had a car catnap. 9 & 10. long shadows & little boys, at t-ball practice.

*I can't decide if her teacher looks more like an older David Hasselhoff or an older Patrick Swayze. Hehee.

3 Little things: a book, a drink, and a good habit

good stuff In the last week, I've found myself more than once sitting on the stairs, my head in my hands in defeat. I confess and plead with the Lord while the drama drags on upstairs.

"I know not what to do, but my eyes are fixed on you."

I have committed to this verse for this year-- to pray it, to live it out, especially on the hard days-- because striving to figure it all out myself and wallowing in the challenges do nothing for me except to wear me out more.

It's more than a cry for help. It's an active stance of leaning on Him to guide and direct me.

He has yet to audibly answer me (though it's only February so who knows what the year holds... ;) ), but He speaks to me through His word and through godly people and through good books.

Today I'm bringing back my weekly-ish 3 Little Things post because I like how it gets my eyes on things I'm digging, things I'm thankful for, things building and filling me up.

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The 3 Little Things series is all about living the abundant life and seeing the abundant goodness in life. And that's what the first little thing I'm sharing today is all about. I've been reading Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family by Michelle Anthony and it's been a great tool for pointing out the dysfunction that might be creeping in to our families.

I love that quote above from her book that I put in that graphic up above. I think it's easy to focus on pursuing the abundant life instead of pursuing Jesus Himself and receiving the abundant life as a by-product, like she says. (Michelle is a wise woman, and I actually know that because she is a friend and mentor of my sister-in-law. I read and enjoyed her book Spiritual Parenting years ago and so I was excited to read her newest book).

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family is not just philosophy; it's super practical and it's teaching me more and more about how practically I can fix my eyes on Jesus and get more of His wisdom. It shows us the various ways that dysfunction can play out in our families, and counters with ways of living out the abundant life in our parenting and in marriages, too.

"In the struggle to determine what is good and what is better, only God can inform me from a perfect and loving perspective." ~Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family

So this book is one of those things making me happy-- because it's giving me hope and direction and I can always use more of those things in my parenting and family journey.

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 So what else has been making me happy lately? 

- Good Earth Original Sweet & Spicy herbal tea-- I'm not a big herbal tea fan but I fell in love with this tea the first time I drank it. It's one of the only teas I've ever liked enough to not add anything to it, and its cinnamon-y spiciness takes me back to the spiced tea my mom gave me when I was home sick as a kid.

- Getting organized! I emptied our art/school cabinet and have been relegating all that stuff to go elsewhere in an effort to downsize our furniture collection by one hutch. We also got the girls an awesome double desk (!!) that has helped with the organization and also the school time by giving Gigi a place to do her independent work alone. I'll share details of that when I finish the whole area up there. It's so fun!

Bonus: how great is that Laura Ingalls Wilder quote up top there? I found it via Instagram and it encompasses so much of what we're working on with Gigi! I'm going to have her memorize it.

I hope you're finding some things making you happy this week. Share in the comments if you feel so inclined! :)

Linking up with Amy @ MomAdvice for the 3 Little Things!

Thank you to Litfuse for the review copy of Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family; read more reviews here. Affiliate links included, thanks for your support.