The Benefits of Weeding (Not Just Your Yard)

I would never claim to like weeding, but there are worse things.  I guess in my mind it’s an excuse to be outside while also being productive, as opposed to inside doing dishes (blah!).

That being said, when we got back from vacation one of the first things I noticed was how out of control the weeds had become.  It doesn’t take long, that’s for sure.

For a couple days I spent Natalie’s nap time pulling weeds.  When it was done the yard looked better and I felt better.  Accomplished.  Refreshed even.

And then it hit me… I need to apply the same practice to my life.

I had been feeling a little overwhelmed with all the things I needed to do and bummed about the fact that it was already August (read: I’m not ready to go back to school!).

Those post-vacation blues set in and I missed the feeling of sitting out on the cabin porch, relaxed and free from stresses of day to day life.

But I realized, kneeling there in the grass with a bucket of weeds by my side, that some of my trouble was unnecessary and self-inflicted.

I’m annoyed with my messy closet, but why do I have so many clothes in there if I don’t even wear them all?

I’m frustrated with things I read or see online, but why do I keep wasting my time scrolling through social media?

I’m bothered by things that are out of my control, but why do I spend so much energy dwelling on them?

The truth is, there are plenty of weeds in my life that could be pulled up and tossed out.

Weeds, in a garden and in life, take up space where they shouldn’t, choking out the good stuff that you want to cultivate.  They make a mess of things and they spread quickly if you don’t make a conscious effort to clear them out.

So it’s time for me to start weeding.

Maybe it’s stuff that clutters my space and makes it harder for me to take care of my home.  Maybe it’s distractions that steal my time from more important things.  Maybe it’s worries that crowd my mind and keep me from focusing on the here and now.

Maybe it’s a little of all of those.

I know there are some specific areas I need to work on and some clear steps I need to take.  I hope to share some of the “weeding” I’m working on in the coming weeks.

It won’t necessarily be easy and it will be an ongoing process.  Just as the weeds in my yard pop up over and over, I don’t expect the weeds in my life to disappear with one attempt.  But I’m ready to put in the effort, because I long for that refreshed feeling that comes when the landscape is clear.

What weeds are growing in your life?  I challenge you to take stock and set to work on clearing them out.  I think we all can benefit from a little weeding.

 

 

Playing House and Keeping House

Lately I find that our house has been taken over by toys.

There are toys in the family room and the living room.  There is an entire playroom upstairs dedicated to toys.  There are toys in our bedroom that I brought in for the purpose of keeping Natalie busy while I got ready for church.  There are toys in the basement being stored for when she’s big enough to play with them.

And guess what?

I love it.

To me those toys (and books, and blankets, and clothes…) are a happy reminder that a child lives here.  A little girl that I have the privilege of raising and loving and playing with and cleaning up after.

When I pick up her stuff in the family room, one of my favorite things is rearranging the doll house.

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The house was passed down to us and has just a couple people with it right now, but I’ve filled it with animal friends as well.  I like moving the furniture around and setting all of them up in different spots.

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I’ve always enjoyed “playing house”, but I’m not necessarily the best at “keeping house”.  That is to say, if you dropped in on a surprise visit there would probably be some part of my house that I would wave my hand and apologize for saying, “Sorry the house is such a mess right now.”

See how I throw that “right now” in at the end?  I thought I only did it out of habit, but now I’ve realized there’s probably more to it.  Maybe I hope those extra words will make it seem like the house is usually spotless, and you just caught me on an off day, or something like that.  I never planned it out that way, it just dawned on me recently as a logical explanation for my habitual comment.

(Please note: I don’t mean to imply that my house is grossly dirty.  The mess I refer to is more of the cluttered variety.  Just felt I had to clarify that, haha!)

Anyway, I don’t really have an excuse to explain away my sub-par housekeeping skills.  I mean, I have reasons that I know contribute, but that’s not the point.

I’ve read blogs/articles with strategies and tips for keeping a spotless house.  I’ve read other blogs/articles saying that moms should just focus on the time with kids and let the cleaning wait for later.

I don’t think either one is right or wrong.  Maybe a little of both is best?

Or, better yet, contentment.  Content but not complacent.

That is the point for me.

I’m not great at keeping up with housework.  It’s not a natural strong point for me, but I know I can develop some better habits and maintain things more than I do now.  I would like to do that.  I am working on that.

But…

I’m not going to beat myself up for the evenings when I want to just play with Natalie and leave the dishes piled in the sink.  Yesterday afternoon I spent her nap time cleaning, today I wrote this blog.  And I’m okay with both those scenarios.

Keeping house, for me, means doing my best for my family and my home.

It means being thankful for what I’ve been given.  It means swallowing my pride and not comparing myself to others.  It means being content where I’m at while still striving to improve on things that need improvement.  Most of all it means doing all things to the glory of God.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men

Colossians 3:23

I’m going to try to stop using that “right now” apology, so if you come to visit and the house is messy, just push aside the toys and settle in.  Maybe you can even help me with the next arrangement for Natalie’s dollhouse!

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My Thoughts on the “Childfree” TIME Magazine Cover

Disclaimer: I have not read, nor do I think I will read, the article(s) in the magazine.  Everything I’m saying is based on the photo and title on the front, as well as a very brief overview I read online.  I realize I’m breaking the rule of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, but I don’t mean this to be some in-depth commentary on the story, just my own reaction and opinion.

While browsing the internet a few days ago, I saw a picture of the most recent issue of TIME magazine.  It looks like this…

My initial reaction was curiosity as I imagined the topic would cause some controversy and conversation, which it has.  My second feeling though was disgust.

I’m not disgusted at the thought that some people would choose not to have children.  That is their own decision.  It might not work for me, but I’m not them.

What bothered me is what the photo and words seem to imply.

The use of the word “childfree” makes it sound like children are some sort of shackle that tie you down or imprison you in a life you wouldn’t otherwise want.

It makes me disgusted to see children portrayed that way, whether it was purposeful or not.  Children are a precious gift.  When you have a child you are being entrusted with the life of another human being!

Yes, you will have to make sacrifices, but to imply that doing so somehow ruins your life is wrong.  I guess if that’s how you look at kids, then you should decide not to have them!

The photo of the couple blissfully lounging on the beach and the tagline, “when having it all means not having children”, gives a skewed perspective on what constitutes a good life.

It seems to imply that wealth and status are the qualifications for “having it all”.  It suggests that having more money and time for yourself is the way to truly enjoy your life.

This is incredibly shallow, selfish and prideful.  It’s also bound to disappoint in the end.  Material things do not last nor do they provide real satisfaction in life.

But here’s where it really hits hard for me.

Over the past year, Steve and I have had a lot of “freedom”.  We can eat out on a weeknight just because, or go on a spontaneous date to the movies pretty much whenever we want.  We’ve taken a couple trips and bought some things for ourselves, and we probably have more money in the bank than we would have too, if things had gone differently with Faith.

But I would give up all of that in a heartbeat to have her here with me.

I know there are others who feel the same way.  Other families who have had to say goodbye to a child.  Other families who want children but have not been able to have them.  And it makes me sad to think of the way that cover photo and those words can hurt families like mine, and theirs.

I might not have a child at home with me yet, but I can guarantee that I will gladly sacrifice for my children and I won’t regret it one bit.  All the freedom and money and time in the world cannot compare with the joy, for me, of raising children.

How do I know, when I haven’t done it yet?

I know the overwhelming love I felt when I held Faith in my arms and I know the delight I have when I feel this little girl move.  I know the incredible childhood I had with parents who were willing to put us kids above themselves.  And I know that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another (John 15:13).

So, TIME, I don’t care if people want to have no children or if they want to have ten!  I do care, however, that we as a society realize what a gift children are.  I care that we stop putting so much emphasis on things that won’t last and don’t really matter.  And I care that we are sensitive to families who have had difficult experiences in regards to having children.

I know that when I leave this world I won’t be taking anything with me.  But the people in my life, the love we share and the legacy we leave, that will carry on.

 

The Imperfections

Yesterday I noticed that one of my nails chipped and it has bugged me ever since.  Usually something like that wouldn’t bother me so much, but I’m in a wedding next weekend and I was specifically trying to grow my nails out nice and even, so one being off really irked me.

Oh the quest for perfection.

Funny how a chipped nail made me think about that… about how often we are bombarded by false perfection and how often we fall prey to those claims.  How often we find ourselves on this search for the impossible.

We see it everywhere, this image of the perfect.  In airbrushed models who set standards of unattainable beauty.  In magazine pages filled with stylish homes, gourmet recipes, and the newest exercise routine with guaranteed results.  In Facebook posts carefully edited to showcase only the best of life through clever hashtags and touched up Instagram photos.

We know it isn’t real, and yet it still gets to us.  At least it still gets to me sometimes, and I sure hope I’m not the only one!  Aren’t there times when you fall for the trap that your life doesn’t measure up?  Aren’t there times when it hurts to be reminded that your life isn’t perfect?

And yet, if you asked me what I would change to make my life perfect, I wouldn’t have an answer.  I know it can’t be done.  Not here anyway.  This earth and my life here will forever be filled with imperfections.

But on the day I kneel at my Lord’s feet and begin eternity in His presence… on that day I will experience perfection.  True perfection, beyond any false claim this world can ever portray.  Oh what a indescribable feeling that will be!

Until then, I will live in this world of imperfection.  I will be thankful for the many blessings in my life and I will pray for patience and courage to face the trials.  I will strive to look at the imperfections in my life, not as a burden, but as a reminder that this is not my home.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:9-10

 

Cold

It’s been cold here.  I know it’s winter and I’m pretty sure it has been cold in many other places too… but can I take one brief moment to whine and say I’m tired of it?!  The past few days have ranged in temperature from 5 to 14 degrees.  Tomorrow we’re predicted to actually get above 20… woohoo!

It’s times like this when I question our decision to live in upstate NY.  Maybe a hut on the beach somewhere near here would have been a better choice…

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Mmmmmm that makes me warm(er) just looking at it!

At the end of this chilly week, I wanted to share something that warmed my heart… the story of a blind sled dog who, with the help of his brother, still finds his joy and purpose in pulling a sled.

Dogs are the best.  After I post this I think some cuddle time with Jackson is in order.  Bonus, he is always warm!  Maybe that is why he actually likes the snow!

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Oh yeah, and I can’t help sharing this one too… just cause it’s hilarious.  If you think I’m being whiny about the cold, don’t go to California!

Happy Friday and stay warm!