Right now, my physical possessions are in three different places, though my self is only in one.

I have about ten boxes of stuff sitting in a little-used office building in a village in South Korea. Here in Las Vegas, NV, I have the essentials and a few childhood things that haven’t been necessary to move out of my parents’ home since I left seven years ago. The bulk of what we own is in my husband’s parents garage in Twin Falls, ID. (And for the record, it really needs to be packed better than it is.)

It is a strange feeling to have my life spread out like this, but it coincidentally is reflective of my state of mind. The only thing that would make it more true would be if I had some things stored somewhere near St. Louis, where I spent a lot of my growing-up years. A big piece of me belongs there and honestly, I never expected not to go back. Now I am two steps out from living there and sometimes I feel like I left on a whim. Yet nothing has been strong enough to pull me back yet, though it’s not that I haven’t tried. 

When I get on Facebook and see the constant stream of familiar faces, settled into nice homes with their families, I feel like I am doing something wrong. The permanence that they have, the sense of place and routine that they have is something I long for but haven’t really gotten yet. And at this point I don’t know when that will happen.

But there is something comforting in being “without a country.” We have recently come home from two years of living abroad, yet something in us is not ready to settle down yet, despite the struggles of expat life. Part of it is a sense that we might miss out on something if we don’t try something new. And there is also something to be said for having a crazy, hair-brained idea and just seeing if you really can make it work. 

That was our first two years in South Korea – a hair-brained scheme that turned out differently than we’d thought. Now we’re hatching a new plan and only time will tell how it will work out. I think we still have at least a couple more years of feeling scattered to the wind. But I aim to take joy in the journey wherever we go.

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(photo credit)

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Why write?

To those who may not know, I’ve always been a writer. From elementary age doodles to Young Author’s stories to a major in writing for the Media, I’ve known for a long time that it’s a big part of who I am.

So why do I struggle so much these days with doing it and committing to it? I think there are many reasons I could list but the main one is that I don’t care about it anymore. But I want to care. I think I underrate the benefits of it – the catharsis, the time just spent in my own head, fleshing out my ideas. And most recently, I want to be writing so that I care share the collective memory of our family with my daughter and any other children we might have. I know that if I’m not preserving those memories, then no one else will.

The other thing about writing that I easily forget is that I have something to contribute. In the last few years I have spent many hours reading the writing of others, especially in the form of blogs. For some reason I haven’t been writing myself, though. Honestly I think that in some ways, I didn’t want to spend that time fleshing out my feelings and thoughts. But for me, writing is self-care. I can see now that I haven’t been caring for myself if I haven’t been writing. And though I’m a somewhat private and reserved person, writing is my way of sharing myself with others.

Though this that I’m writing today is not quite what I want to say, I want to commit to do better – to share myself in one way or another. My time will only become busier, the years will get on, and I will keep saying “I’ll do it later.” I’m going to start now. Here it is.

storing up wisdom

One of my greatest disappointments these days is that I will never be able to cook with my grandma. Grandma March passed away in a fatal car accident when I was 11 years old. She was an amazing woman who married at 17 (or maybe younger?), lived through the Great Depression and her husband’s deployment during WW II, raised 7 children, and persevered despite many ups and downs. Due to her life experiences, I’m sure she must have had tons of good advice on living frugally. The strongest memories that I associate with her are strongly tied to her good cooking and her love of gardening. I specifically remember a meal where she served homemade applesauce, something my mom didn’t usually make. These days when I think of her, I wonder how much I missed out on by not being old enough to have an interest in cooking with her and learning from her. (Seriously… I want to befriend someone else’s grandma who can school me in cooking!)

These days I live far from my older family members who are still living, making it difficult to access their collective memory. So I scour the Internet for recipes, peruse cookbooks, and experiment in order to learn on my own. But there is something to be said for having someone clearly outline methods and tools for cooking healthy, frugal meals for your family. (Just because your mother did it doesn’t mean that you will know how! Especially if you are as bull-headed as I was growing up. God bless my poor mom.) Enter Leila of the blog Like Mother, Like Daughter. She is a Catholic mother of 7 who is probably not dissimilar to my grandma. I love to read her blog and hear her wisdom on all sorts of topics: child-rearing, cooking and meal-planning, keeping a home, and basically any area related to being a mom and wife.

Basically I’ve decided I need to quote some of her wisdom here to start my own contribution to the “collective memory,” as she calls it. I love reading blogs and frankly, my own brain’s memory banks cannot keep up. I will read something she or others write and it stays with me for a out a day, then just dissipates once I start reading again the next day. So, in an attempt to not lose those prized nuggets of wisdom, I want to post them here. Now, here’s to storing into and up-keeping my own memory.

plenty of hats, not enough heads

I think that before I became a mom, I had no idea that I would be trying to juggle so many things at one time. Having a child, especially one that is still so small and immature, is a huge time suck. I love her to pieces and I like to think I would do anything for her. Yet it is a daily challenge trying to manage her and still do other things that I would like to do (and I only have ONE kid!!).

I know that in some ways I am really blessed right now, being a stay-at-home mom, because managing our household would be much different and more difficult, were I also working a full-time job (as I will do when we return to the US). However, I am sometimes really frustrated at how little I accomplish at home, even when I try.

For instance, I have a list of chores to do every week. Every day I do just a little bit, so it’s really only about 30 minutes or less that I am doing chores (Besides the daily ones like washing dishes and keeping the house picked up). But there are some days that it takes me all morning or all afternoon to get it done, because of the demand on my time and attention by Eleanor. I’m really trying not to complain because I really do want to be there for her when she needs me, and let’s face it, I’m her only playmate at home during the day. So I stop what I’m doing sometimes so that we can read together or have a tickle fight or dance to music. So it goes. And then after a while, I try to get back to my chores.

Of course, I am not only Eleanor’s mom. I also am a teacher, and I play piano and sing for church, and I make time for exercise, and I try to do a language exchange with a friend once a week (because my Korean is shamefully bad). And I am a wife, who needs to be spending time with her husband. And I like to have some downtime where I don’t have to DO anything (which has been happening during naptime lately). Now that I’m writing this down I can see how my time is getting eaten up! It’s a challenge to keep up all the time with EVERYTHING. It sometimes feels that if I want to stay on top of one thing, something else may need to fall to the wayside and not require as much of my attention. That’s hard, really really hard. Sometimes I get angry or overwhelmed and let that take my attention away from everything else I need to be doing.

I have discovered one thing in all of this, though (which I already knew, actually): I have to learn to be less selfish. My family needs me all the time, and I need to learn to be okay with it. It’s a huge adjustment – even more than a year after having a kid I still bristle at the notion and sometimes feel that it isn’t fair. And really, it isn’t. I am in a constant battle to be humble enough to serve and love without complaint. Can someone give me a guidebook or something so that I can learn to get over myself and just do what needs done?

Lately…

Things I’m loving:

– not having to turn on the heat in the house anymore
– taking walks and being outside in the sunshine
– having a mostly clean house, most of the time
– Eleanor’s teeth-baring grin when I tell her to smile
– better communication due to baby signs!
– the anticipation of cherry blossoms on trees and flowers springing up

Things I’m missing:

– good friends and fellowship
– a workout buddy
– fresh herbs, avocados, good bread
– having grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins nearby

living fully present and alive

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… How do you do it? I’m not sure, but I’m thinking on it and coming to a few conclusions:

– I feel much better about myself and my relationship with my daughter when I put down my computer and engage with her, instead of setting her up with something to play with while I surf the Internet and do nothing that’s productive.

– If I take the time to have a clean kitchen before I go to bed, everyone’s day starts much better the next morning.

– Meal planning takes a lot of day-to-day stress out of our lives, saves us money and still helps us to eat tasty, healthy food.

– Just because I am a reluctant stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean that my life is over. I can still do meaningful things with my life. I don’t have to give up who I am because I’m a mom… in fact, I need to invest more in who I am and who I want to be.

– I need to be sure that I am fully present with my husband, loving him for who he is and enjoying who he is. We are here to love, support and enjoy one another and there are no re-do’s, just opportunities to learn and grow from our hardships and mistakes.

– I need to quit wishing things were “different,” because nothing will ever be perfect or ideal this side of Glory. God gives me the strength to face challenges and difficulties every day, but also gives me the capacity to shower grace in every situation.

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Colossian 4:6

1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

-Psalm 34

Cherished

5-minute Friday here again…

Five Minute Friday

Join up and link up and be inspired 🙂

Cherished

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[GO]

Kisses on my face from my husband (even when I wanted some alone time)

Kisses on my baby’s soft cheeks

Watching the baby smile and play and give joy to others

Coffee amidst early morning yawns

Eleanor learning the word “up”

A warm fireplace on a cold night

The feeling of just how cold it actually is outside

Danielson playing in the car

A day full of family

Refreshment on the inside from a good talk with friends

Feeling held in the palm of His hand, cherished, blessed, challenged, and given grace, day after day after day…

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