January 21, 2015

withdrawal.

I've been thinking a lot about the motives behind every little thing I do on a daily basis, and about living my life as if even the most mundane tasks are an act of worship to the God that poured out everything for me.

Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people. (Colossians 3:23 ISV)

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In a season of prayer and fasting, I've found myself yet again stripped bare. I'm reminded of the fig leaves Adam and Eve sewed together to try and cover their nakedness (the very first attempt by humans to cover their own shame with the work of their own hands). I have too many fig leaf garments hanging in my spiritual closet.

As much as I yearn for a simple life, I keep adding unnecessary layers to our days- why do I feel the need to plan every single thing and keep our life so tightly controlled? It's the most frightening thing to let go and surrender to a plan not of my own making.

Resisting the urge to set a specific course for the next few weeks, I know I need to withdraw and experience the quiet that happens with no schedule and no expectations. I'm hungry for something that's still nameless. But even though I don't know what I'm seeking, I know it's the only thing that will fill me.

I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2 NLT)

I'll see you guys in a little while, ok?

January 14, 2015

deconstructing our decision to homeschool.

I wanted to take some time today to chat a little bit about our decision to homeschool. I wish I had time to hack it all out at once, but I'll probably just have to cut the big picture up into a series of smaller posts, all things considered.

Now, when I say "our decision", I really mean God and me. Moreso, God- and then he's been working on fixing me so I could more readily accept the changes in our lifestyle. As for Eric and the kids- well, they're still a little more on the fence.

Eric trusts my judgement, I think, but he has total faith in the educational system at large and is afraid homeschooling will equal unnecessary disorder in our home. Hawk could care less right now, for sure- but Seth goes back and forth. He loves his preschool and the chance to interact with the other children. But he also craves more freedom to come and go as we choose (i.e., not be rushed for time in the mornings, or go to the zoo on a Wednesday)- who can blame him?

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I'm not opposed to public school, but a quick check on the status of our local schools finds abysmal ratings and few options. We could fudge our way into another school system- though questionable in practice, my sister and her husband offered to allow us to use their address to register Seth in the school closest their home. That option, however, will saddle us with a two hour commute each day.

The school Seth currently attends is an excellent private option, with relatively low tuition and small classroom sizes. It's only five minutes away, and the teachers are nothing short of wonderful! Still, they only offer classes up to sixth grade- which means we'd be hunting other options at some point down the road. Additionally: two years from now, when Hawk enters preschool, we'd be paying tuition for two kids, and the issue of continued affordability will be compounded.

When Seth was a toddler, I was gung-ho about homeschooling and I was sure that would be the route we'd eventually take, but as he grew older it became apparent that my boy and I were at odds with one another on the issue of his education. He's a strong-willed kid, and I'm a strong-willed woman, and I decided homeschooling would be a recipe for disaster.

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I still am so afraid of what my new role as his teacher might mean for our relationship with one another, but I'm learning to get over myself and get off my high horse more often to see things from his perspective. Humble pie, indeed.

Recently, a woman from our church (who's been educating her kids at home for the past eighteen years) was very candid with me about the internal struggles she dealt with when she began the homeschooling journey. Now, you'd think that this line of conversation would confirm our decision to send Seth to private school in my mind, but God can do surprising things with words between believers!

In this case, he used the seeds from that conversation to sprout in me a desire to reconsider homeschooling. It's as if he was using her to tell me, "It's OK if you feel out of control in this. As a matter of fact, you need to be out of control a little bit so you can remember that I've got this."

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I'm pretty sure this line of thinking, and the prayers I've offered in response, are the cause of the recent deconstruction of my comfortable life. Really, this changes everything. All my carefully laid plans? Naught. My dreams? Deferred.

Am I okay with that?

Yes.

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I am no less scared, but I'm at peace with the decision. And Seth is starting to catch the fever, too! Only a week ago, he announced to our family dinner table, "I do not want to homeschool!" I was so discouraged, but a few days later- and after a few cuddled-up heart-to-hearts- he confessed to me, "Mommy, I really do want you to homeschool me."

So, here we go! It's a new adventure, and a different direction that I had imagined just a few months ago, but I'm in the process of planning a kindergarten curriculum and reimagining the way our life will look for the next (perhaps) couple of decades. I look forward to sharing our adventure with you! You can be sure there will be plenty more posts on the topic to come.

January 12, 2015

the depths.

In light of all this...

my bets are on a bunch more posts like this (tiny little one) in the weeks (months?) to come.

peek into the deep...

A peek at the outfits I have picked for this week: do you think the people I know ever get tired of seeing black, blue, brown, grey on repeat?

Do you have a signature color scheme in your closet?

January 10, 2015

winter fruits.

Today is the first day in more than a month that I've been without the kids- I don't know what to do with the peace and quiet anymore. Do you ever feel that way? I needed this time in a big way, I needed to deal with the feeling of disorder in my soul, and I needed to find ground to stand on.

If you come here often, you've probably been able to see the unmitigated chaos reflected in my posts, even though I've tried very hard to conceal it. Bloggers are a perceptive lot of people, I've learned through the years. God knows I try to put a lid on the things I have no control over and just be persistent and encouraging in my writing. It's an impossible task to maintain for long, I assure you.

I've tried several times to start a post to pour out my heart in peace offering to you, my blogging friends. Every time, I've hastily deleted the words in frustration once I read back over the paragraphs and feel my tone is hasty, complaining, or dry. I don't want to whine, but I desperately need some way to share these burdens with someone before they weigh me down. I'm too painfully aware of my humanity these days.

I've been thinking a lot about ways I can alter the way I approach blogging to make Hello Hive work better: to be more cohesive, honest, and useful. I'm coming up empty, guys- totally empty. If I had a guaranteed space and time to work in, I could hammer out awesome content everyday and give all of you the attention you deserve. Yet I have neither- only abbreviated naptimes and boys that resist bedtimes, infinite laundry and dishes and spills and suppers to be prepared, and no matter how early I rise (it's 5 a.m. these days), both kids just rise earlier.

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Unanswered comments bother me. For me to peek at your blog and not have the ability to comment on your posts- that bothers me, too. Having to say "no" to opportunities and nearly every creative inspiration that comes my way- that bothers me.

Motherhood is an awesome responsibility, and most days I am totally joyful in my duties. I don't think this job was ever intended to be done alone, however- and alone is exactly what I feel most days. I know I'm not ever wholly alone- my Lord Jesus is Emmanuel, the God is With Me who breathes life into my dry bones, and I hide myself in him when the darkness threatens me. But here, on the natural plane, the ache remains.

In the soul searching, I asked myself, Why do you keep blogging, anyway? Some of you know that Hello Hive is a return attempt, that I have blogged and quit- and blogged, and quit again- in the past. I don't want to give up again. Obviously, I keep answering the call to return for a reason. But why?

I don't want to be famous. I don't have anything to sell. I'm not making a dime's profit right now. Most days, I honestly don't feel like I've got a single thing to offer but me- and lately, I don't even have myself to give.

It's the people. I'm craving the companionship. I desperately need to know that I'm not doing life alone! I need a community to hold me up- is that selfish?

I have to be careful in wishing- time is so small. Teach me to number my days, Lord, I pray. And remind me when I feel lost- this life is a gift. I asked for this.

And I did. Right here on the floor beside where I sit today, I cried out with my face to the ground, warm tears spilling down my cheeks into the milk-stained and crumb-dotted carpet- I asked God to let me leave the nine-to-five to come home and just mother. So He did, and so I do. Day after day, I live the gift that He gave me when I asked.

This morning, Eric packed up the kids and headed to his parents' house- he's taking Seth and our nephew Jacob to a monster truck exhibition, and his mother agreed to keep Hawk while they were gone. It is the first time I've been away from both the children at once since the LIFE retreat, and before that, a few hours before our family's Thanksgiving dinner, while I was cooking and cleaning.

I grabbed my camera and headed outside for some time in the sunshine and fresh air immediately after they pulled out of the driveway. I've intentioned to try and use my camera most days this year (unlike last year, when it only came out for special occasions and my iPhone bore the brunt of the daily picture-taking responsibilities...), and in ten days' time, I hadn't captured a single photograph outdoors.

I stood in one spot in the backyard for what seemed a long time, allowing myself to be surrounded by the light and the sound of birdsong in the trees around me. Flying south for winter, the birds pause on this crisp January day to perch in treetops and sing praises to God in thanks for the abundance of winter fruit here to sustain their journey. I closed my eyes and let the sounds of their calls fill me with hope again, and I began to feel a healing breeze stir around the calloused places in my soul.

I can't shake the feeling that the shape and consistency of my life- online and off- is changing dramatically. This sort of discontent tends to fall on me most when the Lord is working on me in unexpected ways. I'm anxious for the work part to be done, but there's opportunity for growth in the waiting. Even when everything around me lies dormant there is winter fruit to be found, so I'm looking to Jesus to sustain me until the opportunity and inspiration blooms for me again.

January 9, 2015

morning guys.

I'm happy to report that most of us are on the mend, and quite nicely, thank-you-very-much. Seth went back to school this morning, and today feels halfway normal. I'm afraid to admit I forgot how nice the quiet house feels in the morning when Seth is in school, especially since he woke me up chattering ninety miles an hour at five o'clock this morning.

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As for Hawk, he's quite the good laundry helper. Also? I dread to say it, but he's not much of a napper, that guy. Naps would be nice, but he doesn't have time for that.

January 7, 2015

first time for everything.

My week began with a sore throat. It started Sunday morning, and by Monday, I could hardly swallow or turn my head. I mean, goodness! Haven't I been sick enough lately? I marched myself down to a nearby doctor's office after Eric came home from work, but they were too overbooked to work me in.

Now, you need to keep in mind that I never see a doctor. I mean, hardly ever. But I had to admit, something was off. This wasn't your typical sore throat! I've never had strep throat before now, but I was suspicious.


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Yesterday morning, Seth told me his throat was sore as well. And Hawk- well, I don't even want to talk about his persistent terrible mood! I'd been toting him around on my hip for the greater part of the last week, pretty unable to do anything but hold him unless he'd mercifully fall asleep. I'd chalked it up to teething, or Wonder Week 75. But yesterday- his nose began gushing goo. I'm pretty sure that's the medical-ish description of his symptoms, anyhow.

So, off to the pediatrician's office we trekked to get our diagnoses-

  1. Seth: strep throat, indeed.
  2. Hawk: double ear infection (even though he'd just finished a round of antibiotics for the same thing less than two weeks ago...)
I knew we could deduce from Seth's diagnosis that I also had strep- there's a first time for everything, folks. I made my return to the good doctor's office to get myself seen about yesterday afternoon. My deductive powers are sound, and strep it is!

But, hallelujah! Today is much better! I see light at the end of the tunnel... And, I can swallow. That's always a bonus. I survived to see the betterness that is today by sipping on lemon-ginger tea with honey and sucking on cough drops. 

How do you take care of yourself when you are sick?

January 3, 2015

sunday suppers

Not so long ago, I purged my book collection and opted to donate all of the cookbooks I owned. I mean, who uses cookbooks anymore- right? I don't know about you, but I don't feel the need for cookbooks to inspire my meal choices anymore, what with the wealth of amazing food bloggers in my feed to inspire my kitchen experiments.

When Karen Mordechai, founder of Sunday Suppers, penned a cookbook by the same name last fall, I knew I'd have to change my tune and snag a copy. I'm so glad I did!

I received Sunday Suppers the week before Thanksgiving, and happily consumed the whole text in a matter of hours. Everything about the book is divine: the mock-linen texture of the cover, the weight of the pages and beautiful, classic typography, and Mordechai's ethereal food photography leaps from the page, begging to be experienced.

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The contents of the text are organized by times of day: morning, noon, afternoon and evening. Under each heading, Mordechai suggests 4-5 mealtime scenarios and a corresponding menu. She's lovingly photographed each scenario and the full-color images invite the reader to experience each meal. The written descriptions are lovely, and you can easily imagine yourself at the table with your loved ones, enjoying the meal at hand.

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Among my favorite meals are the take-along breakfast (pp. 22-31), including a hearty breakfast bread served with granola and yogurt and finished by cinnamon iced coffee and cream, as well as the campfire-prepared lunch (pp. 54-69: Shakshuka, lemon hummus, naan with rosemary and thyme, charred asparagus, braised rapini and a dessert of cinnamon-sugar popcorn). She's considered every palate: including simple recipes that could be used everyday, fun finger foods suitable for childrens' parties, and more hearty, rustic fare for adult gatherings.

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Many modern cookbooks seem to stretch too far for unique ingredients and obscure techniques. I was pleased to note that most of the ingredients for the recipes in Sunday Suppers could be obtained from my local grocery store- only a few recipes contained ingredients that might have to come from a specialty store. I was pleasantly surprised that many of the recipes are quite down-to-earth.

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A review of any cookbook can't be complete without testing at least one of the recipes! I opted to try the apple and olive oil cake on page 195. I had no trouble following the clear, concise directions to prepare my batter, though the baking time for my cake did vary considerably from the author's suggestion (to her credit, she noted that it may).

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The only other snag worthing report was that (gasp!) I actually don't own the mandoline slicer that's required to get the apples garnishing the cake to look as beautiful as the ones in book... Drat. The resulting cake was quite robust: just lightly sweet, with a hefty texture and Old-World inspired flavor. I will definitely try it again one day!

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Perhaps the most important thing I took from this book was the reminder that gathering with loved ones over a shared meal is an important custom- and one we tend to overlook in our hectic, modern lives. I was inspired to bring the phrase "Sunday Suppers" into our family lexicon, and so I announced (over Christmas dinner with my parents), "We are going to start doing this more often, I promise!"

And so, we made a family pact- in 2015, we will gather. We will break bread together, and not just for birthdays and holidays. We will be intentional about planning time together each month, each person contributing something to the meal, and sharing our lives with one another over the dinner table. I can't think of a more lovely way to spend a Sunday evening than with the people I love!

I received a review copy of Sunday Suppers by Karen Mordechai from the kind folks at Blogging for Books. All opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

January 2, 2015

rainy beginning.

Seussian Day

Welcome to 2015, a year that has thus far proven cold and wet. I captured this image before breakfast this morning, inspired by Dr. Seuss:
"The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day." -The Cat in the Hat
Eric is off work today, which is a special treat since we have no people to visit and no holidays parties to attend! We can just enjoy each other and dream about the next 363 1/2 days. One long weekend left until the return to normalcy, and I can't lie: I'm so ready.

The disappearance of structure over the last couple of weeks is making me more than a little crazy. I need a break, so I'll probably sneak off for some quality alone time at the craft store this afternoon. If anyone asks, you haven't heard from me- ok?
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