lyrics/love

Image

It’s a cold, rainy, December morning. The house is quiet except for a new album I bought last week that plays quietly in the background. Winter is the perfect time for new music. I find that it helps fight off the drab and darkening weather–it makes life feel new and fresh and inspiring again.

I bought the album “Strict Joy” by The Swell Season. You may have seen this pair of talented musicians (Irish musician Glen Hansard and Czech singer/pianist Marketa Irglova) star in the movie “Once.” They also created this beautiful album together back in 2009. If you are looking for new music to combat, or perhaps embrace, the winter blues, I recommend this one.

As I was listening through the tracks this past week, this lyric hit me…

GIVE YOURSELF TO A LOVE THAT CONQUERS.

It’s a beautiful image and one that feels so central to what we celebrate this time of year as we anticipate the birth of Jesus, the One whose Love conquers all, today and forever. I wrote the lyric on our chalkboard so I can think about it for the next few days.

How do I give myself to His Love…on a daily and tangible level? What struggles does His Love conquer in my life? Where do I still need some conquering? Good questions to think about during this advent season.

Today I’m thankful for little inspirations, for colored lights, new music, moody gray skies and hot coffee.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” — James 1:17

His love conquers. His love is permanent.

Advertisements
Image

the open road

the open road

We got away for a night. No children. This is the first time since the adoption that we’ve left all three children overnight. This is the first time in over three years that my husband and I have gone on a child-free vacation. Twenty four hours of freedom.

There’s a feeling you get when you face an open road. The further you drive from home, the more you can start to feel like a real human being. There is more to life than the routine rigor! There is finally room to lift up and out of the dailiness of life and remember who you are and what is important to you.

As we drove into the gray autumn sky, I could feel the world open itself to us again. Perhaps we aren’t as boring as we feel that we’ve become! Perhaps, under the weight of obligation and responsibility and dailiness, we are both still there. We haven’t disappeared or evaporated. After all of this, our hearts are still beating.

It is the weekend before thanksgiving and I am grateful that the world still reveals itself to us in new ways. I am grateful for friends that make these moments possible, people to support us and remind us that we are all in this together.

***

How did you spend the weekend?

What are you grateful for this weekend?

november night reflections

The children are in bed. I decided to forego baths tonight. My last remnants of physical energy left my body a few hours ago, washed down the drain with the scraps and crumbs from dinner. Still, my mind is active, so here I am slumped over in my $30 thrift store chair and a cup of peppermint tea, thinking about the day and trying to solve the problems of my world–one of my favorite evening past-times.

The days are growing short and I find the increasing darkness to be disorienting. By 5:30pm it is black outside. Our bodies are still adjusting to the change. Dinner gets pushed up earlier, as does bedtime. We are approaching the peak of autumn, the trees just now coming into their prime, and I know that when we return home after the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be on the other side of the peak, making the quick and inevitable decent into winter.

I was looking back at some summer photos the other day and at this point it is already hard to fathom how different life felt then–the light, the heat, the carelessness of the long evenings. It’s crazy how much of life revolves around a change in the seasons and how much our memories are framed in that context.

This morning, during our drive to school, Lucy asked me why the leaves turn colors. It is hard to know how to explain this ritual to a three-year-old. I didn’t think she would appreciate a scientific answer (neither would I), so I just said that the cold weather tells the leaves it is time to change colors and that they get very bright and beautiful right before they die. Right after they change colors, they know it’s time to let go and fall to the ground. Then, in the winter, the trees are bare and get to rest–until the spring, when they get brand new leaves again.

“Then they’re green!” she exclaimed. 

“Yes, Lu, they are green in the spring,” I said. I am always surprised by what her mind holds onto. The mind of a preschooler is very much a mystery to me.

This autumn I have found myself wondering how the leaves know when to let go. I suppose it is some instinct God breathed into them–something that just happens–yet I marvel at it each year. Sometimes the change that they go through seems so exhausting to me–the birthing, growing, maturing, aging, and dying. All the stages we go through in a single lifetime as humans, the trees relive every year from beginning to end. Tiring, yet inspiring.

Lu’s favorite trees are the red ones, the ones with bright crimson leaves. I think they are my favorite, too. 

Image

It’s like one of my favorite poets, Linda Pastan, says…

Late in October, I watch
it all unravel–the whole

autum leafery
succumbing to rain.
At the moment
of their most intense beauty,
reds and yellows bleed
into each other
like dried paints on a palette

Perhaps beauty
is the mother of death,
not the other way around.

–from “Late in October” posted at Plume Poetry

“Perhaps beauty is the mother of death…”

That is something to think about…not only as it pertains to the trees…but as it pertains to our lives…this correlation between beauty and letting go…sacrifice and surrender.

That is all for tonight…time to let go of this day and prepare for another…

How does the autumn inspire you?

meet for coffee

Image

 

I was talking on the phone with a great friend of mine last week. It was a chilly autumn day, the first week of November, gray skies and orange leaves. She said that days like these remind her of when we were single, twenty-something, college students. We used to drive around in our cars and blare David Gray from the stereo, the perfect compliment to the moody weather. We used to get coffee together and talk for hours. She asked,

“Who gets coffee anymore?”

We are both thirty-somethings now. We live thousands of miles apart. Life has changed and suddenly caught up to us and we find ourselves perplexed by these changes and wondering how we got here. The twenties were so fast paced. We took our freedom for granted. We could spend hours at a time in a coffee shop talking about life and how we fit into it. Aging was not even on our radar. Yet now, here we are, with full-time jobs or children or domestic duties. Responsibility has entered the picture and we are suddenly appreciating the days when we could drop anything and meet up at the local Caribou for a couple of hours.

Who meets for coffee anymore?

Surely, not me, a mother of three. If I took all my kids to a Starbucks I can visualize the amount of damage they’d accomplish within a two minute period, the number of disapproving stares we’d summon from strangers, the kind of spectacle we would be. Meeting for coffee would require some forethought and planning–two things that aren’t my strong suit–not to mention a babysitter. It kind of kills the charm of it, I suppose. Spontaneity is part of what makes coffee time so much fun.

I still have coffee with friends, though now I invite them over to my house. I make us a pot in my faithful drip machine and we try to have meaningful conversation amidst a plethora of interruptions–fighting children, whining children, children who need help wiping, children who need a snack. Such is life in this season. It looks different than it used to, but there is still a lot of sweetness there.

Do you still meet up with people for coffee? Is this something that is passe, or is it just a reflection of the season of life you are in? What does meeting up for coffee look like for you?

the world, as they see it

photo-113

I sometimes catch my children staring quietly out of the car window. It is mysterious how the senses and images they experience each day will be incorporated into their memories. Their ideas about the world are wildly forming. As a mother, it is humbling to have such an integral role in the whole process.

I remember as a young girl riding in the back seat of my dad’s jeep. I remember road trips through the tall grasses of Georgia and South Carolina, listening to Bruce Hornsby and Paul Simon. I remember how the southern landscape became a part of my bones, how I came to associate certain stretches of the road with comfort and familiarity. Sometimes my dad would turn off the music and tune into an SEC football game. The sounds of the AM broadcast, the whistles and roaring crowds, still remind me of him and those nostalgic autumn afternoons.

I’ve introduced my children to some new bands this week. I checked a few albums out from the library and we’ve been making our way through them, savoring each one. This morning, we listened to The Decemberists.

Here’s a hymn to welcome in the day
Heralding a summer’s early sway
And all the bulbs all coming in
To begin

We found a turtle crossing the road as we drove out of our neighborhood. We stopped and the children touched its hard shell and scaly legs. Later, as we drove through town, I found Lucy staring out the window as we passed strip malls and stop signs. How will these little moments during the day nourish and grow her unique perception of life? How will these sights and sounds become a part of who she is? Life is a mystifying mosaic of senses. We each hold it differently.

What is the world, as my children see it? What is the world, as you see it?

libster the liebster.

liebster-blog-award-1024x5661

I was recently nominated for a Liebster Blog Award by Reagan over at Bluestocking Hack. Thank you! The Liebster Award is for blogs with less than 200 followers–blogs that are lesser known and perhaps just getting their feet off the ground. I love when people visit my quiet little corner of the blogosphere and it’s an encouragement to be acknowledged! To accept this award, I must do the following:

1. Post eleven facts about me.

2. Answer questions asked by the person who nominated me.

3. Let them know questions are answered and obligations fulfilled.

4. Ask eleven questions to bloggers I nominate for the Liebster Award.

5. Nominate other bloggers for the award.

~~~

So, here are some facts about me:

1. I still sleep with my childhood blanket. (I know, it’s embarrassing.)

2. I love stripes…especially black and white stripes.

3. I wholeheartedly agree with the statement: “If it’s not chocolate, it’s not dessert.”

4. I can do just about anything as long as I have access to good coffee.

5. Growing up, I didn’t think I would have children. Now I have three.

6. The autumn used to be my favorite season, but now it’s spring. (I’m slowly moving away from melancholy.)

7. Currently, my favorite artist is Henri Matisse.

8. I have a bad habit of twirling my hair.

9. I hated my English/Literature courses in high school and college. It wasn’t until after college that I realized how much I loved to read and write.

10. If I don’t get regular times of quiet and solitude, I begin to feel like I’m coming apart at the seams. (Yes, I’m an introvert!)

11. I lived in England when I was a girl (ages 9-13). Since then, I have desperately wanted to live overseas again. So far, it hasn’t panned out, but I’m still hoping it will happen!

~~~

Questions from Bluestocking Hack:

1. Tell me something weird about yourself.

I was born lacking several of my permanent teeth. This means that my parents spent a lot of money on orthodontic work. It also means that at age 32, I still have some of my baby teeth.

2. What is the most inspirational thing anyone has ever done for you.

The first thing that comes to mind is my husband’s proposal. He flew us up to New York City from San Antonio, TX, where we were both living at the time. He rented a limo, took me out to dinner, then took me to see Phantom of the Opera, and proposed later that night. The next day, he took me out to lunch and he had planned for my parents to meet us at the restaurant. All of it was a surprise. I had no idea where we were going or what we were doing. He only told me what clothes I needed to pack. He had planned the whole thing during his deployment to Iraq the previous summer. Of course, I said YES! We were married a short three months later.

3. One thing you love about your current job.

I am currently a mom and a graduate student. I love that I have some freedom with my schedule and don’t do the same thing every day. Sure, motherhood can be monotonous, especially when raising young kids, but I feel blessed to not have to set my alarm every morning at 4:45am (like I did when I was a nurse) and go to work for 12-13 hrs at a time. I love that I can take a nap with my kids.

4. What is your favorite word in the dictionary?

The first one that comes to mind is:

TACITURN; adjective ; temperamentally disinclined to talk.

As in: “I was a taciturn child.”

5. What famous person do people say you look like?

I have heard Katie Holmes, Julia Stiles, and Kerri Russell.

6. Your absolute favorite movie. Be honest and tell me why.

Braveheart. Because of my Scottish lineage. Because it’s about a man dying so that others can be free, which is the most epic storyline of all, in my opinion. And…young Mel Gibson in a kilt. Boom.

7. Name something you are really proud of yourself for doing.

Birthing/adopting/raising my children. It’s the most challenging and heart-expanding thing I have ever done.

8. What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?

hmmm…unidentified meat in China?

9. Why do you have a blog?

Writing a blog keeps me inspired. When I have a space to write and reflect, I find that I look for more inspiration and beauty amidst those ordinary, daily things I do. I love having most of my stuff in one place. I love being able to connect with other writers/poets/artists. It’s an easy and tangible creative outlet.

10. Do you feel connected to other people when you blog and why?

This is a great question, and one that I’ve struggled with during my 6+ years of blogging. Sometimes I feel connected, sometimes I don’t. When others join in the conversation, I feel connected. When I find another blog that I love and identify with, I feel connected and inspired. However, if I post something and there is no response whatsoever, I can feel disconnected. I have found that I do better when I don’t expect connection through my blog. I try to seek connection primarily in my relationships with others through face to face interactions. My blog, then, is just a way to share my life and learn about others, and if extra connection comes from that, then it’s a bonus. I have learned that social media, in general, is no substitute for real life connection, but it still has an enjoyable and beneficial place in my life.

11. Write an original quote. Yes, quote yourself right here and now.

“I have a horrible time finding my words when I’m put on the spot!”

~~~

Thank you again for the nomination. I will be on the lookout to share the love and nominate others!

something new

photo-102

My mom gave me an old farmhouse table last autumn. It was painted a dark brick red, tired and heavy, like the leaves that fell from the trees.

I have spent the past several months slowly stripping through five layers of paint to expose the natural wood. It killed my electric sander. It did not yield easily to change.

And now that its surface has been worn down, exposed, restored to its original skin, it is free to bear the weight of something new.