On Steps and Tears


As I sit here in my quiet living room, wrapped in my ridiculously-comfy cable-knit poncho and relishing the absence of sound coming from my daughter’s room that tells me she’s asleep, I inhale the deepest and exhale the slowest I have all day (including the moments immediately following when I found said daughter had thrown her plate of mashed potatoes and corn down onto the rug). It’s like I can feel the world slowing down, quieting down, getting ready for the end of the day and forthcoming sleep. The television is off for the nonce, though I’ll probably indulge in some (countless) rewatching of “The Great British Baking Show” before bedtime.

Here we are almost a full week into 2016. It’s a thought that I am having trouble reconciling; it feels like it should have been longer than that right now and yet the days are taking their time a bit. I feel like I have accomplished a great deal and yet that I am falling behind on my To Do list. The decorations are coming down slowly. I’ve already written and submitted an article to the editors of The Well Written Woman. The laundry mountain is being chipped away at. I’ve cooked supper at home several nights this week. I’ve ready several chapters of a new book (you’ll find some favorite quotes from For the Love in the next post back). I’ve also been to the gym and kept up with my daily exercises. Pros and cons, progress and lag. But, on the whole, I find myself very pleased with how this year has begun. Baby steps.

I will confess that I have been busier than I had been expecting and need to work on being a bit more present with my little girl but I did take her out for her first snowfall play of this winter on Monday, which was wonderful. Then we sat on the floor and colored today before Mamaw gave us a call on Skype. So that was fun, particularly with me hilariously trying to defend my meticulously-colored picture from my daughter slapdash creativity. (I managed to snap a picture of my page for myself before surrendering my MLP: FIM coloring book to her mad genuis.)

I am looking forward to this year. I know that it is setting up to be challenging, difficult, or just plain hard for some in my life and it pulls my heart towards them, full of the desire to be there for them, even if there is nothing that I really, physically do for them. But I can be there for them. I can offer love and acceptance and an ear to listen. One of my goals this year is to speak less and listen more and offer as safe a place as I can for others. I don’t really have the words for how important this has become to me.

I have noticed firsthand of late just how ingrained it has become in us to not cry. Don’t cry. Whatever you do, don’t cry. And, if you do cry, apologize for your over-emotionality. Immediately. I am completely guilty of this and it breaks my heart to see those I love feel like they are putting too much on me or embarrassing me or themselves by crying. So I am retraining myself to never say, “Don’t cry”. (Oh, how hard that is with a three year old and those big fat tears over those chubby cheeks over the littlest thing.) Rather, I try to say, “It’s OK. Go on. I’m here,” and then just let them cry as they need. I am trying not to offer advice or platitudes or admonitions, or, really, even say anything aside from reminding them that I am right there (especially if it’s over the phone or Skype, as this is my verbal alternative to being able to hold their hand while they cry). Advice is not what they need from me in that moment. What they need is to be able release those tears, to release that emotion in a place where they do not fear being judged, condemned, or thought ridiculous. They don’t need “don’t cry”; they need “go ahead, you’re safe”.  And that is what I want to give these friends, family, and loved ones. I am a sympathetic crier so there will most likely be two people crying before all is said and done, and that’s okay.

2016 has had a good start, with goals and hopes in place and progress made. It might be little progress but it’s still progress and I am glad for that. Here’s to the progress continuing. Cheers, dears!

Building Up to Victory – #MadeToCrave


Here we are, nearly three full weeks into 2015 and I am reminded of how hard it can be to achieve victory in our goals, whether they be physical, social, emotional, educational, or personal. Sometimes we wonder if we will EVER get there, if we will ever achieve victory in our goals. And, this morning, the below passages were JUST the reminder that I needed

“Sometimes victory seems so far away because we measure it only by the end goal. And end goals can seem overwhelmingly huge, daunting, and just plain hard to reach. But if we start measuring our victories by the smaller choices we make each day, victory won’t seem so impossible.

Practice this not just with your food choices, but in other areas of life as well. The more we experience the blessings of self-control, the more disciplined we’ll become. We’ll start to develop discipline confidence and stop buying into the lie, “This is just the way I am.” ” – Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional, page 89, emphasis mine.

I have been going to the gym at least twice per week for the past four weeks. I have a goal of losing at least 10 lbs. (one dress size) and regaining the strength and tone that I once had. I have lost 2.2 lbs. so far. Honestly, this goal is starting to feel quite difficult to reach. Victory feels very far away.

Elizabeth is 2 years and one month old and I am trying to gauge whether or not she is ready to start potty training. I feel helpless to even know how to start such an important (and possibly frustrating) process. She shows only the barest interest in the toilet; she is far more interested in the sink. Victory seems like it could be a very long way away here.

So this reminder today was quite apropos for me today:  “Big things are built one brick at a time. Victories are achieved one choice at a time.”

When I choose to go to the gym, that is a victorious small success. When I choose to try a new machine or push myself to a higher level on the elliptical, that is a victorious small success.

When I choose to have my devotion/quiet time before anything else in the morning, to spend those few minutes with God and setting my soul for the day, that is a small victorious success.

When I choose not to snap at my daughter and, instead, respond tenderly and patiently, that is a victorious small success.

When I choose to listen to a heart-nudging and reach out to someone instead of locking myself away in my loneliness/fear, that is a small victorious success.

When I choose to give myself grace and not expect myself to be a perfect woman, wife, or mother, that is a small victorious success.

Step by step, brick by brick, choice by choice, victory gets closer. We need making every effort we can, every choice that can lead to a small success and, ultimately, victory.

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance.” – 2 Peter 1:5-6