Spring in Winter. [646-700]

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In keeping up with my word of the year (authentic), let me just tell you — yep, life is definitely different. And in all the hustle and bustle of having an adorable, demanding newborn and a new job, it leaves very little time for myself. On those rare occasions that the baby decides to take a nap for an hour or my husband is home to hold him for a bit, I’m able to get some meals cooked and rooms cleaned. But otherwise, I apparently exist for other people now — mainly, my little boy.

You know what? That’s OK. I want to be there for him as much as I can. And I absolutely adore seeing him explore. Right now, he enjoys putting things in his mouth (usually his hands) and watching the world around him. This week, he rolled over! He is reminding me to slow down. I will still hustle through my days, but I am starting to find a balance with slow moments too. There’s a new rhythm. I’m learning it.

Otherwise, life is good. Since my last post, my parents came to visit (and meet) our little boy, we traded a rooster we hatched last summer for three new hens (our growing flock), I’ve been eating and feeling better, I started my new job, baby started daycare, it snowed briefly, and then has been a very early & warm spring so far (although we are expecting the end of winter is hiding, waiting to blast us with cold).

So, keeping track of the things I’m thankful for? Not that easy. But I will keep trying to jot down what I can remember! I am so thankful for all the good & beautiful things these days. There have been a lot of them…. and I feel a shift inside myself. A shift out of this funk I’ve had for the last couple years, back into the free-spirited joyful person with lots of goals — but on a different level.

Today is one of those days when I’m super motivated to conquer everything. I don’t know how long this feeling will last – but it’s lasted most of the week…. and I’m eager to put a few things into motion this year if I create the time….

My recent list:

646. a quiet New Year’s Eve with friends. 647. my first glass of wine in nearly a year! 648. sleeping in. 649. strangers knocking on my door to let us know the coop was on fire. 650. water. 651. the county fire department’s quick response. 652. all chickens still being safe, sound, and alive. 653. my husband’s hard work on the coop — before and after the fire. 654. going back to work — although bittersweet. 655. cute baby clothes. 656. healthy, growing baby! 657. snow day! 658. having time to actually cook a meal for myself and eat it. 659. quiet, fluffy snow blanketing the trees in white. 660. pets behaving well. 661. baby napping in his crib well. 662. soup. 663. minty chocolate cookies in the fridge. 664. unexpected rest. 665. clean, warm clothes out of the dryer. 666. crisp, clear starry sky. 667. sunlight streaming in the house on a bright, cold January morning. 668. quiet moments when everyone is home! 669. handmade embroidery gift. 670. hand-painted gift. 671. full moon illuminating the dark night. 672. unseasonably warm weather. 673. my green Corkcicle tumbler keeping coffee warm for hours. 674. finding a basic desk for a great price! 675. having a little corner again to write. 676. organizing things into wire baskets. 677. starting my new job and loving it! 678. helpful, friendly new coworkers. 679. baby meeting his grandfather & aunt for the first time (already met grandmother)! 680. Bourbon distillery tour. 681. having my family here in Kentucky. 682. foggy morning sunrise view over a playground. 683. warm sunshine day in early February. 684. sun on my face giving us a taste of spring to come soon. 685. baby reaching out for toys. 686. baby smiling intentionally at people. 687. baby sleeping all night. 688. husband having a night off work. 689. baby’s first line dance! 690. shakeology shakes. 691. hula hooping outside for the first time in months! 692. finding a good home for one of our roosters. 693. acquiring more chickens. 693. brown eggs! 694. lemon raspberry cheesecake from cheesecake factory. 695. my happy planner arriving in the mail! 696. flock of birds flying across the morning sky. 697. earlier sunrises. 698. brighter mornings. 699. baby rolling over!! 700. waking up, excited for the day.

Have a wonderful weekend. ❤

End of the year. [601-645]

I had a whole post typed up about why it didn’t really feel like Christmas for us this year. It was full of a lot of rambling emotion and more information than you probably needed. Upon reading it, I realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to dwell on or remember in the future, so I erased it.

I was still happy about Christmas. My favorite time of the year. And I’m thankful for my family doing their best to share a little Christmas with us this year, even from miles away (this was my first Christmas away from ‘home’). And I’m thankful that my husband did not work on Christmas (he worked over Thanksgiving) so we were able to enjoy the holiday together, the three of us, our new little family.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead. Praying that it will be an easier year than the last two. Praying that next year will bring more joys and successes than the last two. Praying for peace. Praying for calm. Praying for positive change.

And with that, here the final gifts I thought to note for 2016….

601. gingerbread cookies. 602. foggy morning. 603. sliver of sunlight at the end of the day. 604. kisses upon soft baby cheeks. 605. white holiday lights. 606. magazines in the mail. 607. fleece leggings. 608. slippers. 609. warm electric blanket. 610. peppermint candy. 611. fluffy, cozy black cat being a sleepy bum. 612. jealous dog love. 613. first snowflakes on the ground. 614. peppermint fudge. 615. peppermint mocha. 616. smile in my baby’s eyes. 617. swaddle blankets. 618. strong mama hen surviving a fight with a predator. 619. chickens taking care of each other. 620. finding baby chick alive after thinking it was dead. 621. holiday brunch with dear people. 622. warm, sticky cinnamon rolls. 623. holiday dinner with a group of wonderful people. 624. lovely house all decked out for the holidays. 625. wintergreen. 626. white fir. 627. clean baby after a bath. 628. baby sleeping a lot at night. 629. unusual sixty-degree day sandwiched between two cold days. 630. cinnamon-scented pine cone decorations. 631. icy imprints of frozen leaves. 632. husband working long hours to keep us financially afloat. 633. marvelous Christmas program performed by the kids at my church. 634. real smiles from my little baby! 635. Kyle being home for not just one but three days! 636. baby being awake for longer periods of time and interacting a bit. 637. friends that have become family. 638. light flurries on Christmas. 639. strange warm weather being a tease. 640. clearing out clutter. 641. packages arriving through the mail. 642. Costco membership again! 643. quick coffee. 644. hope for the year ahead. 645. having this place to write….

Cheers. ❤

Where’s the Love?

These days, I don’t spend too much time online scrolling through my social media feeds or skimming through articles or heck, even browsing the web, thanks to my lack of internet connection at home and limited phone data plan. I don’t even have a newspaper or watch the news on television. There are many times I gripe about this lack; but then I am thankful not to be too connected and wrapped up in everything going on in the world these days. Part of it is guilt – I feel guilty for not paying attention to the world…. But I am so tired of seeing all the hate and disagreements from all sides of every issue. Just…. So, so tired of it. Is anyone else with me on this?

Whatever happened to love? Kindness? Listening? Understanding?

As I sat thinking about this a few nights ago, I became overwhelmed, almost to the point of tears, at the complicated mess we’ve all gotten ourselves into. And as the thought of raising children in this world has been on my mind more and more lately, I am almost afraid. I have hope in our God, but I am so afraid of what our children will see and hear and experience as they grow up in this breaking world. I want to protect them from everything.

What happened? How did we end up here?

Some bible verses came to mind, and I wanted to share them with you.

During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says in Matthew 5:43-48:

“You have the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

My take on this: everyone — good and evil, just and unjust — are part of this same world. We are all trying to exist together. We are all trying to find our place — some are sitting in the sun, and some under dark clouds. It is up to us to show love and kindness to everyone, even those who do not show it to us. Because honestly? They probably need it the most. They need to see and experience the goodness to let go of their own demons. And even if they don’t let go of their demons, we are still supposed to be kind and show love. We can do that. You can do that. If we keep our kind words and good deeds to those in our immediate circle of family and friends, how does that positively impact everyone else? Reach out. Serve others. Speak a kind word. Give a hug to someone that is hurting. Love.

In Matthew 22: 33-40, we read this story:

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [emphasis added]

In Galatians 5: 13-25, Paul writes:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” [emphasis added]

Can I repeat that? “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Wow! Of course. Aren’t we seeing this right now? So many people are working on destroying other people (through violet protests, hateful words, exclusivity, etc. etc.) that they are in the process of destroying themselves. There is no good that comes from this. At all. Just…. be courteous. Patient. Understanding. Loving.

I don’t understand how anyone who reads the Bible (people who claim not to believe in God and people who claim they are Christians) can debate against one of the most important messages: JUST LOVE. I understand that it might be hard for nonbelievers to grasp the idea that Jesus died for our sins, or that God created everything, or that the Holy Spirit is always with us,… But is it really hard to grasp the message of loving others? If there’s one thing that everyone can learn from the Bible and apply towards their lives, it’s to love others.

God didn’t tell us to tear others down. God didn’t tell us to judge. God didn’t tell us to shoot someone.  God didn’t tell us to hate. God asked us to love. Let Him take care of things. 

Heck, even The Beatles got it: all you need is love.

Jesus gave his life by dying on the cross out of love. For us. For you. Because we all matter.

And all he asks is that we love others too. Because we all matter.

I’m going to try my hardest to show love and kindess to everyone — even when I struggle in the midst of my own hurt and anger. It is not easy. Of course it is not easy. This is not an easy thing that Jesus is asking us to do. But I can do this. Praying for that.

Praying for peace. Praying for love. Praying for an end to the hate.

Praying for you.