Letting Go and Holding On

Although in most ways, we have settled into our new life in Idaho, we miss our friends in Washington something fierce. Before we left, my friend Lindsey decided to plan a road trip to visit us. In my lonely moments over the past month, I have held on by looking forward to her arrival.

For the past week since I last blogged, we have been blessed by their company. Our eight combined children are perfectly staggered at ages 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and <1 and played together fantastically, bringing endless delight to their mamas and making beautiful memories.

Sprinkler time!
Shabbat morning breakfast for 11!

At the zoo!

Now that they’ve gone, I’m faced with the reality that my life in Washington has come to a close, and it’s time to move on. Despite my sadness, it’s time to allow myself to get plugged in here, to build relationships, find a doctor, and get an Idaho drivers license!

But at the same time as realizing all of this, I’m also realizing that the relationships I have don’t have to end. I know, this sounds ridiculous, but I think there’s a part of me that has really feared letting go of my life in Washington because I was afraid of what might happen to those relationships I cherish. Would they remember me after I left? Would they slowly fade away? When it comes down to it, though, I am thankful for the relationships I have built, and have I to trust that they are strong enough to withstand the distance.

So now, I am working on letting go while hanging on. Letting go of the temporal while hanging onto the eternal. And leaning on my Father’s arms through it all.

~ Judy

Our One Month Anniversary

Today we celebrate one month in our new home in Idaho! As I reflect on the last month, I’m struck by how much things are the same and different at the same time. The foundations of my life – my relationship with God, my family, our values – are my constant rock. But there are so many little things that are new and different! Trying to get used to a new town, remembering roads and landmarks, finding new resources (doctors, groceries, entertainment, etc.) can feel overwhelming some days! Those days I am especially thankful for the solid family that we have and for the undeniable Word of God that brought us here.

In the book One Thousand Gifts (see my post a couple of days ago), we are challenged to practice gratitude for all those little things that are so often overlooked. So, here are a few “Idaho-Gifts”:

Wide open spaces
Blue skies & sunshine
Farmland scenery on every drive
The park behind our house
A more-accessible yard
Eggs from a friend’s “backyard” chickens
Raw milk, less expensive
A smaller house to keep clean
Carpet that isn’t white!
Everything in closer proximity
Reciprocal zoo membership
Being close to Mark’s parents and brother/sister-in-law

Now, on that note, we’re headed to Mark’s parents to celebrate Memorial Day! Blessings to you.

~ Judy

Choosing To See

“Because this is how you begin to spend your one life well –
receiving each moment for what it really is: holy, ordinary, amazing grace. A gift.”
– Selections From One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

As a busy mom, there are days – a lot of days, if I’m honest with myself – that I get lost in the mundaneness of it all. It’s the same thing over and over – cooking, cleaning, teaching, correcting. I know that what I’m doing as a mom is the most important job on earth, but there are so many days that come to a close with the thoughts of “Isn’t there more to life than this? This plain repetition?”

A year and a half ago, I came upon the book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. The book shook me to the core, brought me to tears and gave me hope. The answer to my struggle? Choosing gratitude. And more – choosing to see God’s hand in the little things, to see His blessings in those mundane things that I had grown so tired of.

And even though it has been a year and a half since then, I still struggle. Struggle to be thankful for those mundane things that fill most of my days.

Earlier I was thinking about my recent striving to set apart alone time at the start of each day. For the past couple of days I haven’t had that time. My two youngest have woken up with me, turning my devotional time into a juggling act and leaving all of us frustrated. I found myself being resentful of the time they took away from my morning “me time.”

Then I caught myself – “me time”? Wasn’t this supposed to be “God time”?

And how am I supposed to meet with God if I can’t even see the biggest blessings He has given me as just that? This life that God had given me is an amazing gift that I am to treasure and cherish – even those everyday aspects of it. And as I choose to see God in the everyday-ness of it all, I believe that it will change my outlook on life and in turn my relationships with my children and my God.

So this is my personal challenge for this week: to choose again to see blessings in the mundane, choosing to see the annoyances as opportunities. To try to find balance between my need for alone time and my children’s need for me.

This is my challenge.

~ Judy

An Early Bird Stuck in a Night Owl’s Body

I’m convinced – I am an early bird who is stuck in a night owl’s body! If left to itself, my body will naturally wake up around 8-9am and go to bed between 12-1am. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember.

For years, I have wished that I could wake up earlier without extreme effort. In high school, I had to put my alarm clock on the other side if the room AND cover the snooze button with cotton to keep myself from turning it off in my mostly-asleep state and going back to bed. In college, I got the worst grades in my earliest classes, often because I just couldn’t get myself there. And now, as a mom, it means I wake up with my kids and get my alone time late at night.

This might work out fine for me except for one *small* detail – those rare days when I wake up early are amazing! I love them. I love waking before my family and spending time alone in prayer and thought in a quiet house. Being the introvert that I am, I get my energy from those alone times, and starting my day that way gives me such a better perspective and attitude about the rest of the day.

Back when I was pregnant with Avigail, for the first time as a parent, I was able to get into a routine that enabled me to wake up early. For a couple of blissful months, I woke up around 7am, got ready, and went downstairs to read, pray, and think before the kids woke up for the day. The trick for me at that time was buying a new coffeemaker that I could set the night before. Knowing that I would get my fix, hot and fresh, as soon as I got downstairs was enough to coax me out of bed most mornings. Well, that and the fact that if I waited too long it would be burnt! It was still hard, but so worth it. And with each day my resolve grew stronger.

But eventually Avigail was born, and my time was no longer my own. Sleeping through the night became a faint memory, and I returned to my former pattern of late nights and late mornings. Even on the mornings when my babe didn’t allow me to sleep in, I was still living in a constant state of new mom sleep deprivation.

So, that brings me to today. It’s been over 9 months since our little girl entered our lives, and while sleeping through the night is still an elusive escape artist who I’m pretty sure won’t be returning anytime soon, I’m ready to put my game face back on! Life is flying by at a dizzying speed, and I desperately want to be at a place in myself where I be present in and can cherish every moment. And for me, I know that will include bringing out the early bird in me!

And so it is with great trepidation that I share my morning routine!

– Bedtime (with a clean house, preferably): 10:30-11:00pm | First of all, an early morning has to start with an early bedtime. This has been a major struggle for me, but Mark and I are on the same page, so we’re trying to encourage each other in that area.

– Wake up, shower, get dressed: 7:00am | My ultimate goal is 6:30 so that I have a half-hour to work out, but for now this is where I am.

– Head downstairs for tea, Bible reading, and prayer time: 7:30am | I recently gave up coffee in favor of the less-intense effects of tea. I quit cold-turkey and felt like a rock star. 😀

– Kids & Breakfast: 8:00am | This is when the kids typically start making their way downstairs. I’m working on making a habit of spending a few minutes focused on each child as they wake up (inspired by a friend of mine). Then I start breakfast and do dishes, and on goes our morning!

My morning isn’t complete without these two things.  Well, and the iPod.  🙂

Is there anyone else out there trying to become more self-disciplined about their personal time?  Anyone other early birds stuck in night owl bodies?  Leave a comment and let’s encourage each other!

~ Judy