Hello Instagram, Meet my Dirty Dishes.

You know those pictures I post of food and of when the house feels warm and cozy and clean?  Those pictures of when I’ve been cooking our favorite meals? carnitas

Pictures like this

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Pictures of when things fall into place and there is a peace that settles on the home. When the home feels more like a sanctuary…when it feels like I hope for it to feel and like I desire.  A home that is inspired by articles like I find at Art House America.

I have to admit, though.  There are times when things simply do not mesh.

There are times when I feel like I am running to stay ahead of the day, and I am just barely keeping up pace. I don’t have the lessons planned far enough ahead. I don’t have the groceries bought. I don’t have the meals planned. I don’t have on hand what I need. The kids are just enough more energetic than I am and it is keeping me on edge because it is highlighting the fact that I am falling short.

That is when the house looks more like this:

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Yep.  Not a lot of healthy, home cooked, green wonderful veggie-type food there. Meds. Flung to and fro, mixed in with all kinds of snacky type food.

Oh, and the sink…well…we’re really keeping up on the dishes today as well:

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It actually looks much worse in person.

I would have taken a picture of the laundry room, but I had to stop and clean up the cat vomit and got distracted.

Here’s the thing.  In the middle of this we have accomplished math lessons and reading, we have learned about Hittites and Canaanites, about the battle of Troy and about the Judges of Israel.

We have laughed heartily.

We’ve been to the grocery and the orthodontist and on the way sang loudly to TobyMac and Taylor Swift.

I rocked Maddie, after stepping over her toys that were scattered on the floor, and I sat for a few minutes holding her and just breathing her in. Just being with her…even though I didn’t have a few minutes. Because, even though I am far behind on duties; on lesson plans and menus and laundry, I am still in the middle of a life full of promise and hope and love.

We’ve been doing life and sometimes the chores get a bit sloppy because life gets backed up. I have the tendency to get edgy and grouchy when I know I am behind on the duties that I am responsible for, and I can take that out on the kids…because I know I am falling short. I desperately need a pause button so I can get caught up.

Those pause buttons are hard to find and the duties and the stress can continue to pile up. But we have to find those pauses…when we are rocking the babies, or listening to the laughter of the older kids…or looking at our kids sleep.

And then everyone else is still posting pictures of great meals and clean houses and clean smiling kids on Pinterest and Instagram and FaceBook. We’ve all seen the posts, and we’ve all read the blog articles telling us not to stress over them…but sometimes we need another reminder.

So here is another reminder.

Don’t stress.

Everyone has the back-up of dishes in their sink sometimes. Everyone’s cat, or dog, or kid, pukes on the floor at some point 😉

Everyone feels the need to hit the pause button…we just don’t always post that on Pinterest or FaceBook or Instagram all the time. We like to post the good side of us. And sometimes that makes it really tough for all the rest of us to say that we struggling and that we are hurting and that we are lonely…or disappointed…or …. whatever.

But we need to say it and we need to not swallow it down and try to just ignore it and shoulder on, because it just becomes bigger and harder to swallow down.

So…go ahead…post pictures of your dirty sink on Instagram and tell the world you need a day to pause! Recognize your limits!! Before they become something larger than they need to be.

Because we have an enemy that will take something small and twist it and turn it and poke at it and fester it until it becomes something it never needed to be. He will take a silly picture of someone enjoying life, posted on a social media, and make you feel less about yourself.

Listen…the successes and the joys of our friends do not diminish who we are…they simply are the joys of our friends. Let them be that, and rejoice with them. That’s all.

I promise to post some unflattering pictures of our life in the coming months 😉

For now…remember that the One who cares for us cares for us in the midst of the life we are in, right now. Not the life we hope for, or the life we wish we had. Not the life we hope to create.

Right now…with the promise that He is the One who is Faithful to bring about the life we hope to create. He is the One who can bring us to the place where we are loved and whole and well…and where we have peace even with dirty dishes and cats who vomit.

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The Restoring Power of Wonder

I don’t know about you, but the last week or so has been filled with some heaviness for me. Friends dealing with deep struggles. The things of life that make you deeply aware that we are walking in the midst of brokenness, and that can make us very weary.

I have spoken often on the pages of this blog of the need to seek out and nurture wonder in our lives. Sometimes when our brokenness is most raw, wonder is most vivid. Seeking out wonder is not just a polyanna attitude…it is not just trying to ignore the bad and focus on the good. It is what brings us life when we are most in need.

When I was in college there was a season I was overwhelmed. We were seeing some truly bizarre things happening spiritually, we were young and emotional and raw and we felt like no one was listening to us. My pastor came up to our campus and walked with me and listened. He read through pages of students who were contemplating suicide…kids who felt completely lost who were writing in the public journal in the prayer chapel. Finally he sat down with me and told me that his best advice was for us to stop fixating on all the issues and to begin to worship.

It sounded rather strange in the moment, I’ll be honest, but it was the best advice I’ve had. He was not asking me to ignore the issues, but he was teaching me to refocus. When we fixate on our brokenness and our problems, and the failures and the issues….oh my.

We can become downcast.

We can become overwhelmed, and as a parent especially, that can be a difficult place to be.

When we turn our attention instead to God, when we turn to wonder and to worship…something else happens. When we realize who our God is, when we turn our attention from our struggle instead to Who cares for us, to the God to Whom we belong…that changes things.

Even on the simplest level

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.  Ps 42:11

Sometimes wonder is difficult to find, I know. But I have to tell you…I am so thankful for the musicians around us who are not only gifted in their craft, but who are filled with joy in their craft. They lift us.

The infuse us with wonder.

Sometimes something online goes viral…a music video or a clip of an impromptu performance…and people not only want to watch it, but they want to share it. We want others to see it and be inspired as well.  And I love that. I have written before about the powerful influence of music in our lives, but for today I just wanted to focus on how it can stir wonder.

There are a hundred videos I could post, but this flash mob is one of my absolute favorites…and yes, it was orchestrated (!) by a bank in Spain. I don’t care…the musicians are obviously absolutely loving what they are doing and the crowd is delighted…

Another favorite of ours are The Piano Guys.  Go and check out their website. Take the time to look at their videos, and turn up your speakers. Grab your kids and watch the videos. These guys not only are fantastic musicians, but they bring in music the kids know and they make it fun and engaging…and then they bring in classical music. Still that is not what makes me watch them the most. What gets me the most and makes me come to them when I am overcome with brokenness is the absolute joy they have in the music.

It lifts my soul.

Watch this:

I’m thankful this morning…thankful for the glorious sunshine and a quiet stillness. Thankful for the change of the seasons and for the delight the kids have in seeing the leaves change and the feeling the coolness in the air. I’m thankful for the wonder around me. I am thankful for a God who created us with imagination and with color and with music and with wonder, so that on days when the brokenness is raw and clear the wonder reminds us that there is more. The wonder reminds us that we were made for something more…and that He will restore.

How amazing will that be? If these things are just a taste? Whew…that’s a whole different post.