The Highs and Lows of Summer

At night when we eat dinner, we like to go around the table and share “highs and lows.” Something good that has happened in the day and something that wasn’t so great. Elle doesn’t quite understand the idea and hers often go something like, “My high was going to the zoo with mommy and Bea. And my low was seeing daddy when he got home!” Maybe it’s that her life is truly one big high. More likely it’s that she’s just too young to understand or remember the tough parts of the day. I love hearing about her lows-that-were-really-highs.

IMG_0485Summer is over and as I reflect on these past ten weeks out of our normal routine, I feel a bit like Elle. The highs and lows kind of meld together. A high was having unstructured and free days. A low was having unstructured and free days. Elle is reminding me of the both/and rather than either/or of life.

In that spirit, I thought I’d share a little summer update of highs, lows, things I learned, and little mundane moments.

Taking a Writing Break is Good for the Brain
I decided to take July off of blogging. I had a couple book reviews and things but mostly I kept this computer shut. I didn’t even send out my monthly newsletter! It was good to not stress about (self-imposed) deadlines and goals. But here we are, the second week of August, and I’m slowly stretching my writing muscles again. Routine helps. I know that as I sit down and practice, the words will come back. But it was hard to truly let go. To live in the moment. To not wish a bit for kids who were just a little more independent. It will come. Every year is so different. But it’s a tug, being productive and living in the moment.

(Have you signed up for my newsletter? It’s filled with book recommendations, an essay that’s a little more personal, poetry, and great reads. You can sign up here.)

Threenagers are the Best… And the Worst
Now that Elle is three, I’m remembering what a cool and awful season this is. We are catching glimpses of the future. Travel is easier, the girls’ friendship is blossoming, and Elle’s vocabulary and humor are so fun. Mixed with all these amazing moments are the frustrations of wanting to figure things out herself. I’m not much help, as I’m itching for a more independent season, as well. I’m remembering to slow down – for both of us – and take in these moments slowly, without wishing them away.

Screen Time is July’s Best Friend. But Unplugging is Pretty Awesome, too.
We started the summer strong. Playdates, zoo camp, activities, swimming, camping, limited screen time. And then the long hot days of July felt longer and hotter. And the amount of screen time got longer and longer. I don’t feel guilty about that at all. The girls got outside for unstructured play every day. They drew and read and squabbled and created. But I also was pretty relaxed about letting them watch an extra show (or three) more than usual.

IMG_0302When we drove up to Wyoming, we had a 10-hour drive ahead of us. Reception is sketchy at best in the Tetons and Yellowstone so we decided to go the screen-free route. It was mostly good. There were a few moments on the drive when I wondered what we were thinking but overall, the detox was great and the girls didn’t miss their shows. Lesson learned: All bets are off in the summer. Screen time is a savior but it’s also sweet to completely unplug.

Summer Celebrations are the Best
The last week of July is filled with celebrations for our family. Bea’s birthday is three days after our anniversary and Elle’s birthday is three days after that. It’s a chaotic and cake-filled week but I love having a reason to celebrate in the mist of those lazy summer days. The girls still love having a joint birthday party and I love inviting tons of friends for hot dogs, Costco sheet cake, and kids running wild in the backyard. What began as a stressful feeling of poor planning has turned into a week that I look forward to.

Community Abounds
This summer has been a lesson in the value and richness of diverse community. At my low points, I long for a “church home,” where our social circles are at and where we find all we need. Our reality is that we attend services at one church, have a fantastic parent community at another church, and are getting more and more plugged in with our school and neighborhood community. Sometimes this feels incredibly disjointed but a few different moments reminded me that this is an incredible gift. Our girls are growing up with a wide range of experiences, values, beliefs, and worldviews and I am so grateful for that.

There’s always a bittersweet feeling at the end of summer. I can’t believe that alarms are set and we’re back in the school routine. If I learned anything this summer, it’s that seasons pass quickly and as long and tough as some days can be, I know I’ll look back on these little years with fondness and gratefulness that I was able to be part of these daily moments.

What about you? What have you learned this summer?

Untitled designIn case you missed it, I’m raising money for women to join us on the Ruby Woo Pilgrimage. Read about it here and please consider donating – every bit helps!

Remembering Who Came First

I’m honored to be over at SheLoves today. This month’s theme is “territories” and I originally didn’t expect to have anything to say on this topic. But a trip to the wild landscape of northern Colorado reminded me that this space I call home, where I feel grounded, isn’t really mine to claim. Here’s an excerpt and I hope you’ll click over to SheLoves to join the conversation!

annie-rim-the-privilege-of-finding-home-2I’ve only ever lived in urban areas but the wild west is where I find myself relaxing and exhaling. Born in California and having grown up in Colorado, the landscape of the Western United States is what is ingrained. The cold Pacific Ocean, the red rocks of Utah, the snow-capped Rocky Mountains—these are the natural wonders that shaped my childhood.

While attending college in Paris, I spent four years searching for nature to rejuvenate. I’d take the train to the suburbs, hoping for rest in the sprawling parks designed by landscape architects of the 18th century. While it gave me peace I couldn’t find in Paris, the manicured lawns and evenly spaced trees didn’t give me a wild sense of wonder.

After graduation, I thought I’d find that wildness in the Himalayas of Nepal. I spent three months in Kathmandu, pressed in by people and animals and overwhelming smells. The mountains were there, always in the distance (when the smog cleared). While they were powerful, they weren’t accessible.

So I returned to Colorado, realizing that this is where I could rejuvenate. Now we are raising our girls in the midst of this landscape. We take them to Moab where the sight of the massive red rock formations help me breathe deeply. We drive north to Wyoming where the smell of wild sage fills our car and the canyons and hills remind me of a Western novel, where cowboys and bandits camp and hide.

As our girls grow and we create memories that will make the West part of their identity, my husband and I are thinking of ways to intentionally weave the history of this land into our family’s explorations. This year, as we prepare for a family visit to Yellowstone and the Tetons, our family is reading books about Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Head over to SheLoves to read the rest and join the conversation! 

Where do you find your home? How have you learned more about the land where you live?

Ruby Woo Pilgrimage: Will You Help?

Last year, I remember seeing a trending hashtag on Twitter about a lipstick that empowered women. Stories were told about wearing this bright red color to help boost confidence. The shade was just right for a variety of skin tones and I loved seeing women share the impact of this cosmetic. As the thread grew, women started dreaming of a pilgrimage and, from my view as the ultimate Twitter lurker, I saw a movement take shape.

Untitled designAs the story unfolded, I followed the hashtag and saw a powerful group of women make their way from Seneca Falls (where the American suffrage movement began) down to Washington, D.C. to meet with representatives. Those photos prompted me to buy my own tube of Ruby Woo lipstick and all winter I wore that bright color and indeed, felt much more confident whenever I wore it.

Fast forward to this past spring. A peacemaking trip I had been dearly looking forward to fell through and I was letting myself feel disappointed about it. Right at that same time, I saw a friend post something about applications being open for the 2018 Ruby Woo Pilgrimage. On a whim, I decided to fill in the application. My heart was tugging toward something I could do to learn and participate in reconciliation work.

I’ll admit, when I got the email in June telling me I had “made it on the bus,” I was shocked and started second-guessing my place to ride along. My platform wasn’t big enough; I’m “just” a mom; why would my presence be needed?

But that’s the point. This bus of 40 women will represent seasoned activists, women of color, women who are just dipping their toes into this world of reconciliation; and women like me, who are here to listen and learn.

So, here’s the part where I’m asking you for help…

When I signed up for the pilgrimage, I knew we had the money set aside for this other trip. I thought I would just quietly pay my own way, quietly sit on the bus, and quietly learn from women more experienced than I.

Then I read the email. The organizers are asking us to fundraise for two other women who may not have the resources or the platform to ask. I’ve been thinking a lot about the work of reparations lately and when you look at the root, it means “repair.” By asking for help in fundraising for others, I’m using my own resources and privilege to help repair gaps that systemic injustices have created.

I’m also remembering that I’m part of a community and doing things on my own just isn’t how life is done at its best.

So I’m asking you, this little online community, to help. Would you donate a few dollars to this journey? I’d love for you to be part of it with me! Here’s the GoFundMe Page.

Here are some other details:

The Ruby Woo Pilgrimage is convened by Freedom Road, LLC.

Freedom Road’s founder, Lisa Sharon Harper wrote an article about the origins of Ruby Woo for Religion News Services: Hear the Pulpits Roar

Will you join my GoFundMe efforts? Our deadline is October 1, 2018!

I appreciate your consideration!

Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? What is a life-changing journey you’ve experienced?

Made Like Martha Guest Post + Giveaway

Before becoming a mother, I was an efficient do-er. I was often the first to get my grades in at the end of the semester; I’d plan my days around productivity and quiet time; I felt pretty in control of my schedule. And then kids happened… And I quickly learned that the best-laid plans of productivity go by the wayside for a myriad of reasons. Being a mom has taught me to hold my to-do list loosely, to go with the flow, and to remember to live in the moment. Some days, this happens more gracefully than others.

When I heard about Katie M. Reid’s book, Made Like Martha, the title resonated with me. Martha has always been a woman I’ve connected with and I feel like she’s gotten an unfair reputation as a frenzied worker. But really, she kept things together. Made Like Martha reminds us that God has created “Modern Marthas” as do-ers. The question is how do we worship and work, without losing focus? Katie delivers a grace-filled look at how we can use Martha as a role-model, rather than a warning.

I’m honored to feature a guest post of Katie’s here. Read to the bottom for an opportunity to win your own copy of Made Like Martha, which releases tomorrow!

Sabbath Rest for Those Who Get Things Done
by Katie M. Reid

PerfectioninUsMadeLikeMarthaKMReidI knew I should be more intentional about Sabbath (a day set apart for the Lord and recuperation) but I thought it had to look a certain way too. Since it hardly ever looked “that way,” I often felt restless about getting rest “right.”

Some friends of mine are more purposeful when it comes to Sabbath. Some don’t go out to eat because that causes others work on the Sabbath. Others implement no screen time on their day of rest. Some mandate a nap (yes, please!). Some do yard work. Some sleep in. Some go adventuring. Some are physically active, others avoid it all costs. Some brunch at a leisurely hour. And some are required to work on Sundays, so they pick another day to chill.

Have you felt unsure about what a day of rest should look like?

Fielding questions about Sabbath now:
“Can we go out to eat?”
“Should I do housework?”
“Should we allow technology?”
“Do I need to connect with God for hours in order for it to count?”

Good questions. I’m glad you asked. Here are my off-the-top-of-my-head responses (for what they’re worth):
“Yes!”
“Definitely not. Let’s just say it’s not allowed. Like ever!”
“I dunno know. I try not to, but it doesn’t seem to stick.”
“Grace Darling, so much grace.”

Much to my surprise, my family is hungry every Sunday—of all the nerve! No grace for that. J/K! #kindof (insert sheepish and conflicted emoji face).Thankfully, we’ve uncovered the beauty of leftovers, a.k.a. Operation Fend For Yourself.

Sometimes our kids have soccer games on Sundays. Although we enjoy cheering them on, we miss our afternoon nap on those days.

Sometimes our day of rest (whether it’s Sunday or another day) is filled up by our own choosing, but other times, unexpected things disrupt our ideal.

It can be hard to rest on the inside when there is a flurry of activity happening around you—self-induced or otherwise. Like the crowds that pressed in on Jesus and vied for his attention, you can’t always retreat from the hustle and bustle.

We need time to recharge (Jesus did that after all). But beach vacations (my favorite way to unwind: staring at waves, hearing the caw of gulls overhead, sipping iced tea with lemon, reading a book, not being interrupted…insert contented sigh) are few and far between. And if we wait to spend time with Jesus until the conditions are ideal, we never will.

Instead of being annoyed that your day of rest is not as serene as you’d like, why not connect with God in the midst of it?

Rest can look a thousand different ways. Let’s ask God for wisdom to rest in ways that focus on Him and refresh us. Yes, we need shuteye. Yes, time away is important. Yes, a break helps us recharge, but the peace of Jesus’s Presence is carried within us at any and all times—waiting to be enjoyed.

Rest is not something to search for, but Someone to be with.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” -Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

What are some of your favorites ways to rest?

KatieReid_MeetKateKatie M. Reid is a wife, mom to five, and a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversations over iced tea. Katie is also a speaker, Bible study facilitator, and author of Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done (which includes a 5-week bible study for individuals and groups). She encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life at katiemreid.com. Subscribe to Katie’s site and receive resources to help you breathe deeply and walk freely.

You can win your own copy of Made Like Martha!MadeLikeMartha_sidebar

Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done releases tomorrow! Katie’s publisher, Waterbrook Multnomah has generously offered to host a giveaway for one copy. All you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter, The Compost Heap and leave a comment here telling me you’ve signed up. If you’re feeling chatty, tell me why you connect with either Martha or Mary more and why. I’ll randomly select a winner on Thursday, June 12, 2018.

As a member of the Made Like Martha launch team, I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

The Compost Heap

 

When The Original Plan is the Best Plan

We spent the month of June doing some house renovations. As the girls grow and play differently, our playroom also changed. Housed in the formal dining room, the playroom sat at the center of our home for over three years. I could read on the couch and watch the girls play or make dinner and peak in on them from the kitchen. It was an ideal spot for creativity and imagination.

It was also always a mess and a source of stress as I tried to find a space of peace in our home. Play, by nature, isn’t tidy or organized but it felt like an overwhelming task to keep it presentable. We knew that one day we wanted to finish a large and mostly unused storage room in the basement but that was in the future. Until a friend asked, Why not just make the unfinished space into the playroom?

IMG_9066I won’t go into all the details, but that’s just what we did. We cut a hole in the basement wall, opening the space to the finished part. My dad painted a bright and welcoming mural on the concrete wall. We covered the floor in mats and moved all the toys downstairs. It’s still an overflowing mess but it’s out of sight and feels more contained. IMG_9655

We changed the playroom into a library/study. I love that the center of our home is filled with books. We kept the legos and blocks upstairs and it’s still clearly a home with kids – an entire bookshelf is devoted to their books. But it’s also much more reflective of the grownups who live here, too.

I had a vision for the paint color for this new study for more than nine months. This was a hope and vision and I kept that color swatch taped to the wall to remind me that one day, the playroom would be reclaimed.

IMG_9703We went to Lowe’s and I told the woman behind the paint counter exactly what I wanted: One gallon of light yellow and one gallon of that same yellow, mixed 50% lighter. She looked at the swatch and said, That’s too complicated. You’d better choose a darker color. What about this? She pulled a swatch from right above mine and suggested using the lightest color on that as our contrast. Quickly convinced that my vision wouldn’t work, I agreed, we went home, and painted a light orange under the chair rail and my envisioned yellow above it.

Immediately, I knew this wasn’t what I had imagined. It looked like an orange and yellow wall rather than a yellow and slightly lighter yellow wall. I thought maybe I just needed to live with this new color scheme and I’d fall in love. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it; I had my parents come and we held artwork against the new color. I knew I couldn’t live with it.

So, we went back, bought the paint I originally wanted. (This time, I talked with a woman who said, Yep! We can do this!) Frank spent another day painting and immediately, I loved the color. I saw my vision appear on the wall and knew I would love spending time in this room.

As I rearranged furniture, hung pictures, and finally settled into a chair to read a book in this space, I knew I had made the right choice in repainting.

Sometimes, we do need to live with something unexpected and it turns out better. This happened with the paint color in our bedroom and I love the unexpected color so much more than the one I had thought I wanted. Sometimes, in life things go unexpectedly and, in hindsight, those switches in plans are so much better and richer.

But sometimes, we need to fight for our original vision. Sometimes, when we’ve thought and planned for months, that path is confirmed and set. And it’s ok to go back and readjust to make sure we’re on that right path.

As a planner, I need to learn to hold plans loosely, to let the journey take me to unexpected places, and to remember that I am not in control of every single detail of my life.

I also need to remember to trust my own instinct and to remember that I am an intentional person. That I rarely make quick or spontaneous decisions and so, when things don’t go as planned, I need to pause to really evaluate if it is a good new direction or if I need to recalibrate.

I love our new spaces. Right now, the girls are busy in their playroom while I write. The other day, I read while Bea spent an hour building a castle in the study. Our house feels more calm and intentional. And I learned that I can trust my well-planned vision.

How do you balance holding your plans loosely and trusting your instinct? Has there been a time when you’ve needed to recalibrate back to the original path?

Review: Inspired by Rachel Held Evans

It’s easy to dismiss the Bible and Christianity, isn’t it? I was about to say “these days” at the end of that sentence but I have a feeling that every generation has grappled with interpretation and misinterpretation of this ancient text. Of course, I want the story of God, in whose image I was created, to reflect me and my values. And everyone, from the Attorney General to atheists to theologians interprets this text through their own lens.

_240_360_Book.2605.coverIt’s a fine line between asking questions to dig deeper and questioning with a framework of cynicism. One is productive, the other can be frustrating. In her newest book, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again Rachel Held Evans does her best to remove the cynicism and ask the questions for what they are: To learn and grapple, often without a specific outcome.

I’ve read every one of Evans’ books and this one is the most inviting in this divided world. She reimagines stories in modern settings, helps us see familiar characters in a new light, and links these ancient narratives to modern lessons.

Evans provides deep research and insight while loving the questions themselves. You won’t find answers in this book but you’ll learn that asking questions is a vital part of engaging with this text and tradition.

If you’re looking for a book that helps you experience the Bible through a fresh and forgiving lens, Inspired will give you hope and encouragement.

What books have helped you see the Bible from a fresh perspective? How do you balance the ancient text with modern interpretation?

I received this book free from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Two Books to Read for World Refugee Day

For as long as human history has been recorded, we have known about refugees. The Abrahamic faiths are built on an idea of fleeing and finding homes in new countries. But just because something has been happening for millennia doesn’t mean we can’t actively be trying to love our neighbors and find better solutions to an unsafe world.

Lists, resources, and petitions abound for current refugee situations. If you want to do something that helps immediately, I suggest you find an organization you trust and respect to see how you and your family can best partner with their efforts.

But if you’re looking for a slower understanding about America’s history of immigration, I wanted to suggest one of the most impacting books I’ve read on the Christian response to modern immigration.

41L1Pnj4JgL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion, & Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang Yang was published in 2009 but remains pertinent, nearly a decade later. Soerens and Yang work for World Relief, an aid organization whose goal is to empower refugees and the countries they come from.  The book is a combination of stories and statistics and the writing is engaging. If nothing else, Soerens and Yang helped me confront my own ignorance about the history of immigration and how America has actually treated refugees, especially in the last hundred years. (I wrote a more detailed essay about Welcoming the Stranger over at SheLoves last year.)

51sOre9OlEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_If you’d rather read a fiction book that makes you think, I just finished Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran. Published last year, this timely novel follows two women: Soli, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and Kavya, an Indian-American struggling with infertility. Their paths cross when Soli is put into an immigration detention center and her son is put in Kavya’s foster care. There are a couple plot leaps but overall, this book humanizes the families who are impacted by immigration policy. I also appreciated that this was written and published well before the current practices. It’s a reminder that we have a very broken system in dealing with those who cross the border without documentation.

If you need a place to start looking for resources, I thought I’d list a few places to start. There are many organizations doing really good work, so I’d recommend finding one you feel comfortable giving to and trusting with your resources.

The Justice Conference, World Relief, and We Welcome Refugees created this fact sheet that gives a quick overview of the “zero tolerance” policies. Check out their websites for what they do and how you can get involved.

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Again, I trust you are able to research and find an organization that best aligns with your own beliefs. But I’d encourage everyone to read more deeply than Twitter or the News. On this day, as we remember refugees from around the world, I hope we all take the time to dig a little deeper into these very complex issues.

What resources have helped you understand the refugee crisis over the years? How do you stay informed? Any favorite organizations you support?

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.