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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Just a Few Snapshots of our Time Away…

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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? 

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Lost and Found

One of the small luxuries of being on vacation is watching the morning news.  Rich and I have always loved current events- want to instill in our daughter a bigger world view than our own little community and though we try to read as much as we can, having a little family is pretty time consuming.  All consuming.  And mornings are filled with throwing peanut butter sandwiches in bags and running to catch the bus, not lounging around a breakfast nook discussing headlines.  So, the past 8 days we’ve been away, we’ve risen without alarms, poured a second, and sometimes a third, cup of coffee and gathered cozy in the living room to let the news play while we opened sleepy eyes.

This past week was not the week to choose to turn on the television. No fluffy pop news about puppies in costumes or celebrity weddings.

I have spent this vacation half fully invested in the peace and the beauty and the rest, and the other half in constant tears and anguish and longing for Jesus to just come already, because we clearly will never get anything right.

I mourned deeply and with great sadness the loss of Robin Williams, along with the rest of the country.  Because, for some small reason or the other, we all felt as though we knew him and wished, albeit presumptuously, we were made privy to his sadness in order to help him carry it.  It was a weight I wore around my neck for days, for those I know who carry/ied similar backpacks of hopeless and I held my child tighter and breathed in her scent, ragged breaths and prayed that she would never see life as something she must endure.

And then the tear gas and the bombs and the shouts of injustice from angry mobs poured into my living room live from Ferguson and I grieved anew.  For boys who will never grow into men.  For men who made choices they’ll carry with them forever.  For how far we have come and how far we need to go.  

 I am sheltered safely in a cabin that smells of pine and am both relieved and guilty of my station.  

Prayers for all the lost and found tonight.

 

 

 

Sabbath

It feels funny to have a laptop on the front porch up here.  In a place surrounded by water and gravel and sand and trees.  Where reception is spotty and people gather together at night around bon fires in wet bathing suits rather than in someone’s living room around a screen.

I am listening to my daughter play outside , squealing, with four other children, running in and out of their houses because our yards all run together and I am slowly adjusting to the way things are.  The rhythm of the every day where no one wears a watch and it takes two hours to get an ice cream but the cream was fresh as of this morning and churned during the day while I was in the water in the sunshine.  Where my child can announce that she is going outside to play and I do not peer frantically out the window every 5 minutes because she is safe.

I swim laps here every morning after breakfast. Not as intentional exercise, though I suppose it is, but as a way to right myself.  The cold water closing in around my limbs and lungs and it feels nothing nothing like drowning and everything like living.  Clean, cold and alive and I turn around for another lap toward the ropes, to where my feet can’t touch the bottom until I can’t think or breathe save giving thanks for being.

There is music on the dock played on beat-up guitars and teenagers daring each other to dive backwards off the docks and sand in every fold of every sheet.

Everything takes longer and no one is in a rush to get it because they know that the waiting is what makes it worth it.

I read a book that was so magical I cried real tears when it ended and walked the main street with the other tourists knowing more than they and less than the locals.  I am a strange summer transplant in kissing hellos to cashiers and neighbors and saying goodbye for the winters.

I’ve spent each evening in the kitchen slicing mangos for curry and sweating shallots for cassoulet while the sun sets on the front porch to the sounds of my family splashing on the beach.

I’ve drank more wine than I would ever care to admit to under usual circumstances, but uncharacteristically  haven’t felt badly about it once because it was lavish and extravagant and there was a void in my life for those two, very things.

We have dreamed together as a family and regrouped and laughed and argued some but reveled mostly in who we are and who we could be and what we were made for.

Mostly, I have felt the truth that God is bigger than churches and buildings and boxes and brokenness. Than the little world I built around myself, and ultimately, Him.

I have gone without a Sabbath for so long I am grateful He gave me the opportunity to string them all together, in a row.

 

 

Pre-school, Expectations and Hello Kitty Lunch boxes

I got the email yesterday that had a list of things that Rich and I should begin to gather for Ellie to be prepared for pre-school, starting September 4.  Things like waiting to respond to her when she calls so that she learns to wait patiently at school.  Like buying a lunch box and practicing eating out of it so that when the time comes, she’s not confused with how to open it.  To encourage her to be more independent by allowing her to go into the bathroom herself, and dressing her in clothing that she can take on and off easily on her own.  I did not cry at how my baby is getting older.  I am so thrilled for her to get to experience this amazing opportunity to spend three mornings a week playing play doh and singing songs and running like mad and making new friends.  I’m so excited to see how the experience will shape her and grow her, and in turn, do the same to us.  

But as I was laying out her things on her bed yesterday, testing buttons and snaps, making sure my camera had a working battery and organizing my schedule to ensure that I would be home on a normally, working Thursday, those little thoughts crept in.

You know the ones I’m talking about.  The ones that have no authority to enter in, but they do anyway.  The ones that have no place, no power, no strength unless we give it to them, and we often do without thinking.  

And I wondered if I would be the only Mother in the line of Mothers taking pictures and straightening pigtails without a baby in an ergo strapped to my front.  If I would be asked if I had other children in school or at home.  If they would all be returning to their expansive kitchens and their nannies and their shopping while I would be scrambling to get to an appointment on time.  

The thing is, I thought this piece of my life would look different.  I thought that by now, it wouldn’t be such a struggle to make payments, to buy clothes, to conceive children.  I know that’s not a unique statement- very few people are exactly where they pictured themselves to be. But I allowed it to linger longer than it should have.

And that’s where I am today.  In the balance of recognizing what’s real, and what isn’t, and how though both may affect you, they don’t define you. 

And I have to find the most perfect hello kitty lunchbox to ever exist.

 

Fasting and Feasting

Confession.  I read books over and over again.  Like, a lot.  Especially if it inspires in me something that I contact to-grab hold of-empathize with.  I’m pretty obsessed with Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read it.  I made her bacon and mushroom risotto tonight (okay, it was wild assorted mushrooms and pancetta and I had to dig real deep not to be a jerk and call mine better than hers) and I hold onto her words like a child holds a blankey because it’s so, well, me.  Like, most of me.  Like we’re both Mamas who’ve lost and gained babies and dress sizes and peace.  And the thing that seals the deal is that this woman believes in THE TABLE.  But, her chapter on fasting and feasting is the one that’s stayed with me the most this week.

I have been feasting with no fasting involved for quite a while.  Feasting on work and screen time and micromanaging and whining and complaining and food and drink and my own self-indulgent behavior that generally leads to pity or some other ugly emotion.  I have not fasted from commitments, from foods, from other’s opinions of me, from the world at large in so long the very idea sets huge bells off in my over-indulged brain….

YOU WILL DIE WITHOUT NETFLIX.

APPROVAL.

THAT HAMBURGER.

THAT GLASS OF WINE.

DIE.

To clarify, I will not die. There is time to feast and a time to fast- I’ve ignored the latter, wrongly thinking the first was so much better.

We’re going on vacation this coming weekend which most would think would be a green light for more feasting.  But, every year we go up north where the mountains are big and the cellphone reception is non-existant.  Every year we swim in the lake after breakfast and meander through the farm for produce to make dinner.  And every year I breath a little deeper, swim a little farther, and let a little more go, mapping out a plan for my year to come.

I’m looking forward to the fasting time from computers and keyboards and cellphone rings and Panera’s take-out.  I never thought fasting could seem so appealing.  

Beers, Be-ers and Doers

I am a doer.
You have a plan? I get it done.
Talking about it makes me anxious.
Yes, but, what are you DOING about it?
Never ask a favor of me and tell me to, “take my time” with it.
“My time” is the speed of light to the tune of fourteen cups of coffee and a neglected kitchen because you asked me to “do” something and I will not-cannot- rest until it is done.
Like, done, done.
Not rough draft done.
Like, final copy not a comma out of place and smells like new ink done.
I had to give up knitting because the fact that I couldn’t complete a project the day I began it was so excruciating that my jaw began to ache the minute my fingers touched a skein.
I am a doer.
My husband, my sister,my daughter and everyone else close and important to me it seems, are BE-ERs.
Not to be confused with beers.
Though they are those, too.
(Not my daughter. )
They do things, too. But they know how to be present in the doing and to recognize when it’s time to stop the “do-ing” and start the “be-ing” for a while.
If this diatribe has you thinking of what a perfect analogy this makes to Mary and Martha I will eat you. Alive.
I have been called a Martha my whole life.
Like it’s a bad thing.
Like she was a bad person.
Who just wanted things to be perfect for the one she loved more than anything.
Bad Martha.
Bad.
I get it.
Mary did what was better.
She did.
Mary was a be-er.
But I’m not Mary.
Or Martha, for that matter.
I’m me.
I’m a do-er.
Who doesn’t want to stop the do-ing.
Because that’s part of who I am.
But I want to learn how to be a better be-er.

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