Monday

Nothing would make me happier than if someone had all of the books on my Amazon wish list sent to me anonymously.  Nothing.

Unless someone offered to come de-clutter my house.

But then, where would all of those books go?

We think happy hour is a fourth meal, here at the Shannons and we make good use of it. And we’re kind of obsessed with these.

I am so happy the weather is as such to re-instate our Sunday roast chicken tradition I could do cartwheels.  If I ever learned how to do them. I blame my Mother for telling me to keep both of my feet on the ground.

I made jars and jars of roasted tomato salsa with the produce that came out of my garden and had bone broth simmering in my crock pot all day and am more excited about the rye flour being shipped to my house for my sourdough starter than I ever was about buying an article of clothing.

I started brushing my teeth with baking soda and praying over the door of my child’s room against this insane virus that I see in the news and in my nightmares.

And I finished this book.  And it made me remember how Christ isn’t about programs and Facebook pages and teeshirts and highlights and everything about the hungry, the marginalized, the destitute and the broken.

I want to feed people.  People who are hungry.  I want to feed them and love them well at my table amid down lap blankets and Earl Grey.  I have always wanted that, but I had forgotten.

I watch Chocolat or Amelie when I’m sad.  Or lonely.  Or bored.  Anytime, really.

Especially when I should already be in bed.  Like, now.

Saturday Morning

I may or may not be wearing a shirt that says, “Beer Whisperer” that belongs to my husband and wearing gray sweatpants that match.

While eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

I have clearly given up sexy on Saturdays.

And checking Facebook during the entire month of September.

And Wine during the week.  (See how I capitalized it? I needed to let it go.)

What I have not given up are:

Dinner parties.  (Moroccan eggplant and apricot hand pies, grilled lamb chops and harissa hummus, anyone?)

Keeping a debt countdown by my desk to mark every penny we don’t owe anyone anymore, ever again. Amen.

The hope that my child might ever sleep alone.

Loving fall weather.

Amazon.

I am addicted to amazon.

I am terrified of personal trainers.

And organized sports.

And hand sanitizers that are supposed to smell like apple pie.

And whatever they put in Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks that will give me cancer but I. CANT. HELP. MYSELF.

Happy Saturday, friends.

Perpetuating the SAHM Stereotype with the Three C’s : Cookies, Candles and Celebrity Crushes

We’ve paired down our clutter by half this summer.  Had a garage sale, gave toys away (don’t tell my kid I had her Aunt come in the dark of night and abscond discarded toys from the lonely corner on the front porch).  I think we’ve been doing pretty good with the whole, non-consumer thing.  

But, I mean, there are still things I can LOOOOOVE, right?

When you loooooove something, you get to keep it? That’s what all of those terrifying Psychologists on those Hoarding TV shows say.  

So, here are a few things I cannot live without right now.

Like, at all.

Like, don’t make me give it up or I’ll cry in the corner like my dog died.

1.  It’s no secret that french cooking is an obsess ,  er, hobby of mine.  If I’m allowed a celebrity crush, it’s David Lebovitz forever and ever.  So, what love child could come of the joining of my favorite chef with my favorite blogger? These cookies.  These cookies are the perfect union of everything holy.  Jesus would love these cookies.   I have stuck to the recipe.  I have gently toasted pecans and sprinkled cypress white flake sea salt over the top of each little mound. Oh, and used this- just to be fancy . I may or may not have spooned a bit of dark chocolate gelato over the bottom.  You can’t take them from me.  Well, unless you’re a little fairy-type person with pink wings and a top knot and you’re not too sneaky but you’re so cute it doesn’t even matter.

 photo-18

2.  We went to New Hampshire on vacation this summer and every year when I return, I mourn the loss of the warm pine smell.  I know,I know.  Everyone in NJ automatically associates the aroma with a rouge twinkle light and a smoking Christmas tree, but the pine smell has always meant summer and rest to me. While in a little shop in the middle of Moultonborough-no where, I found a pine scented candle that smelled like the forrest and not the Christmas Tree Shop. Thank you, Swan Creek, you’ve made this New England heart very happy.  

3.  I put off reading Jen Hatmaker’s “Interrupted” because, well, I’m from New Jersey and have a natural bias against all things Texan. Her writing style is so informal it makes the English teacher inside of me want to whack her wrist with a ruler.  You can’t put y’all on paper. It goes against every code in every book ever written.  Which, I think was her point. I ate up every rule breaking, paradigm shifting, feet washing, word. 

4.  Erin Morgenstern’s debute novel, “Night Circus” was the first piece of fiction I’ve read in TWO YEARS that I couldn’t put down.  And cried when it was over.  I mourned the end.  For real.  It took two full days to come snap out of it.  Read it.

5.  These boots.  Ok, so, technically, they can’t be my favorite because I don’t actually own them.  Yet.  But they would be.  Oh how they would be.  


 


 

Dating Classroom Mothers

The first day of preschool is a milestone, all the way around.

We got up early, brushed teeth and hair.  Had some french toast, braided unruly straggles and put on a white dress.  Because there’s no way they would do anything as brave as painting on the first day, right?

My little one was both excited and nervous, apprehensive and curious.  She ran up the pathway ahead of me through the sea of parents taking pictures with expensive cameras, combing spiky hair, fiddling with hems, and staring at ME.

We are a new family in a private school we can barely afford but she was going there if I had to sell each and every one of my teeth because we both deserve a place where she is safe and free to learn.  

I had prepared my kiddo for the opportunity of meeting new friends, but I had neglected to give myself the same speech.  

Oh shit.

They’re sizing me up.

I am not ready for this.

I smile nervously, usher my child inside to her classroom and gently detangle her fingers from the bottom of my shirt.

“First time?” an inquiring voice asked behind me.  Haven’t seen you around….

“I’m sorry? Oh, yes.” Nervous laughter. 

She’s trying to pick me up.

I watched her eyes.  To my wedding ring.  To my scarf.  To my pearl earrings. 

I have been tried and found acceptable.

Flashing smile.  Assurances of how great she’ll do.  Her son’s in the same class.

Of course he is.

Look, I am a social person.  Friendly, even.  I can handle the thought of meeting new people, as long as I am prepared.  I was not prepared.  My heart started pounding.  My mouth went dry.  Oh God.  I’m not quite ready for a relationship yet, I’m just trying to get through this 15 minutes without crying or throwing up. 

I make a beeline for the door as I watch her mouth open to dodge her request for coffee or to “lunch”.

A date.

You understand, don’t you? 

You can’t rush into these things.

Looks like it was first day for me, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Being Busy

There was not one second to breathe yesterday.  

There was a train stuck in the tunnel that caused major delays; it took me nearly three hours to get from my house to the upper east side where my tutoring appointments were.  Then, it took an hour and forty minutes to get home, for a meeting at 4:30 and dinner plans at 6.  

Rich and I had barely said hello to each other since we got home.

As bizarre as it is to admit, part of me is proud of the busy-ness that ordinarily consumes my life.  It wards away the guilt of being still- idle.  Idle hands…….

Whenever I find myself with just a little bit of time to myself, I make sure to fill it up with things to do for someone else so I do not feel……LAZY.

I cannot imagine a worse name to be called than Lazy.  Even, if its just me calling myself the word.  Inappropriately.

You just had an aha moment, didn’t you.

Why does this woman always talk about being a daughter of the King, and His grace and goodness? Doesn’t she get it already?

Nope.  No.  I’m the worst grace student there is.

Because being busy means I’m WORKING and the WORK makes me not LAZY, thusly, deserving of good things because I EARNED them.

You’re going to pray for me now, aren’t you.

Good.

I have been walking out this Jesus life thing since I was 16 and I still catch myself trying to earn Christ’s affection.  Every day.  Earn my station.  Earn my “pay”.  Not be lazy. If you’re lazy, you don’t deserve good things.

I have a problem, clearly.

But this is my year to change that.  To believe in God’s provision first, before filling up my schedule with impossible to keep appointments that may pay the bills, but puts stress on myself and my family.

To pray first, then act- not out of fear but in trust.

To really get the whole “sabbath” thing. And, like, do it.  

To understand what it means to put your own family first, and then actually do that- which means moving others off of the tippy top priority list sometimes.

To carve out some time for myself- to take a class, read a book, see a friend, take a break and not feeling guilty about it.

How do you pair down the, “busy”? 

Make family time?

You time?

Not feel lazy or guilty?

Remember who you are in Christ, every day?

Feel free to share rituals, routines, schedule shifts or anything you’ve down to modify the “busy” that seems to take over.

 

 

In Vino, Veritas. And bigger pants.

I drank too much wine on vacation.  Like, a lot of wine.  Like every morning at the beach when it was time to roll over to make sure my tan was even, I would check my phone to see if it was appropriate wine time yet.  And it was almost always was. It was not the time to deny myself, I had a very long morning of swimming.  I deserved it.

I also ate too much; indulged in risotto and lobster rolls. French fries became their own food group- well supported, I might add, by my child.

And worried too much.  Though we were far away and the sounds of the water lapping on the beach carried in through my window at night and it smelled like pine and the whole sky was full of stars and I had no agenda or timeline of any sort, there was some shit going on at home that consumed my brain and I worried.

Fast forward to now. My kid’s going to preschool next week.  PRE. SCHOOL.  That thing that comes before actual school.  That comes before short skirts and lies by omission and shady boyfriends with fuzzy mustaches.  We are both getting older.  It looks better on her.

I am going back to work.  Back to NYC.  Back to the village and TRI-Burbia and Brooklyn.  

And there’s other stuff.  Like-WOAH-stuff.  Like we need to have time to focus on this stuff.  

So, beginning September 1, I’ll be participating in a fasting, of sorts.  I’ll still pound on the keyboard at this fine little space, but I’m bowing out of the Facebook and the  Insta-whatever crowd.  I know, I know.  What are you going to do without first day of school pictures of my darling?  How will you survive without seeing what I’m growing in my garden or having for lunch? (SALAD- I am only allowed SALAD for the next FOUR months.) I’m going to drink more water, lay off the vino, try to cry less and stay far away from a fryer.

I need to step back and listen to Jesus and breath deep. 

I need to listen and remember what it feels like to have a quiet soul and eat kale like my life depended on it.

I need to care for my whole self and stop neglecting the upkeep- all of it.

No more wine.

Unless it’s a Sancerre.

On the weekends.

And then, no more than one glass.

Well, two on Saturdays.

Socially.

I’ll work it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Few Snapshots of our Time Away…

With your whole heart…

theshannonfamilytable:

Love my friend.

Originally posted on joyforthismorning:

The call to live a life of faith can feel like a lot of hard work. To be good, do what is right and swallow our pride takes effort. The kind that, if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t always want to make. It’s hard to tithe when the budget’s tight. It’s hard to make time in your day to pray or read the Bible when you never feel like you can sit down. It’s hard to control your tongue when every ounce of your being wants to complain. It’s hard to go against the grain.

In this environment, choosing good sometimes feels like trying to push a big boulder up a hill. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to this struggle when he wrote in Romans 7:18, “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I have the desire to…

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Hosea

When I was pregnant the first time, we were enamored with the idea of how to name our child.  Names are so important. My Mom named me after a character on General Hospital for crying out loud and I lived for years wondering how I had ended up without dark, curly locks and a smoldering look like Kim Delaney. 

 I wanted the name for this special child to encompass how thrilled and terrified we were and what kind of person we were already praying s/he would become.  

  I’m the oldest of four girls.  I’ve been around women my entire life.  Girls names? In the bag.  We hemmed and hawed over whether Esme might be too hard for friends to pronounce, if Violet was too old fashioned, if Cecelia would always make me think of Paul Simon and if Ruby might not be something she could grow old with.  Each one had it’s appeal ( and as you know, it was Ellie that won in my second pregnancy due to it’s whimsical nature and it’s solid rooting in a woman we have known and loved) but we were at a loss for a single, solitary boy’s name.

We tossed around the good ole’ names.  The strong, biblical ones like Luke and Noah.  But they never seemed quite right.  We went directly to our hippie roots and threw Arlo and Levon in the mix, but they never fit either.  I loved Amos, Rich thought cookies.  I loved Rowan, Rich saw Mr. Bean.  It was hopeless.

We started researching and reading and pouring over baby name books and it was separately, together, that we came to the one and only boy name we have ever agreed on: Hosea.

Hosea has always been a favorite OT book of mine but I had long forgotten it’s significance. 

Hosea was a man who chose to follow God no matter the consequences.  He married a woman he knew would be unfaithful to him.  What?!?!?!?! And had children with her.  What?!??!?!?! It’s meant to have that kind of impact on your heart.  Hosea’s love for Gomer was symbolic of how Christ loves his church- an unfaithful, mess of folk- with a relentless, unfailing love free and clear of judgement.  He took ALL of her, at face value, just as she was.  

Hosea represented everything we prayed for in a son.  A man willing to do the hard thing, the often unpopular, even contrary at times thing, to follow Christ.  A man who would be faithful to the unfaithful.  A man who pushed aside all societal expectations, quieted all others input and listen to God’s voice on the matter first.  

Hosea was both rebellious and heroic.  Steady and unlikely.  He had a heart as big and as deep as a canyon, who kept on loving even after he had been broken time and time again.  

We never had the chance to give that child a name.  But the man Hosea has stayed with me and I am most thankful for this beautiful, painful reminder, particularly this week.

Sometimes we are called to do the difficult thing.  The thing that makes no sense to anyone else- even people we love and value.  Sometimes we are called to be brave and heroic in the face of circumstances beyond our control and all we have is a tiny, mustard seed belief that God loves us and we are his. 

But, ALL the time we are called to LOVE.  Love like Hosea loved Gomer.  With a relentless, tenacious love.  For people who may not love us back.  Who might be unfaithful, just as we are unfaithful.  Hosea loved Gomer like Christ loves the church.  That’s US.

The unfaithful ones.  The prostitutes.  The whores. The idol worshippers.  That’s ME.  And God loves us with an extravagant love so rich and unfathomable it brings me to my knees.  The way Hosea saw the dirt and grime from the street where his wife worked and grasped hold of her and took her for who she was.  All of it. That’s what He did for me. 

How can we not do the same for others?