December Photo Project: Week 1

I decided at the last minute to jump in to another little challenge. Every December I have seen some of my friends participate in the December Photo Project. I loved seeing them post one picture a day in the month of December. So this year I decided to jump in. It’s a great way to challenge myself to see something new every day, and dabble a bit in photography, which has always interested me. And this year I have a smart-phone (yay!) so my pictures will be made with my phone. I am going to post the pictures here on a weekly basis.

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Day 1 – Early morning reading time. Waking up early is never easy for me but those quiet early morning moments are becoming my favorite of the day.

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Day 2 – My Japanese Maple flaming in afternoon light.

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Day 3 – One of my favorite things about the Advent season is the extra time to snuggle by the twinkling lights and read special books. We add a book or two to our Christmas basket every year. There are lots of memories here.

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Day 4 – I love seeing the morning sun pierce the trees and light up our dining room.

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Day 5 – Nathaniel (in the red) running on ahead of me in his first race. It was a beautiful morning and a really fun run in our little town. It’s sure to become a family tradition.

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Day 6 – My nightstand. Because I suddenly got sick and this has been my view for the afternoon. Sickness frustrates me but I am trying to rest.

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Day 7 – My view this afternoon. There are piles of laundry, boxes of stuff that need to be organized, and so many things that need to get done which is frustrating when I have no energy. But the sun is shining, and my husband took the day off of work so I can rest so I am trying to see the good in that.

See you next week for more December Photo Project pics!

For more about the December Photo Project and to see other participants visit tredways.org. Also follow #dpp2015 on Instagram.

Running Together

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A year ago, on Thanksgiving, I ran my first 5k. I had only been running for a few months and that first race felt like a huge accomplishment. I never imagined myself running, let alone enjoying it. But there I was, crossing the finishing line in snow and freezing temperatures and having a good time! My sons had watched me train for that race. I had brought them with me to the track and while I ran they would ride their bikes and play. They watched me plod out the miles. They watched me sweat (“Why is your face purple mom?” and they watched my elation when I added more distance and completed a goal. When I approached the finish line of my first 5k my youngest son was sitting on my husbands shoulders, cheering me on, and so of course I got teary eyed and choked up. I was proud of myself and I was happy that my son got to witness my accomplishment and my pride.

Lately my Nathaniel has been training with me. He has wanted to run a race. So as I have been circling the track he has been too. He runs lightly and chatters away the whole time. He’s been talking about how far he wants to run (he decided to start with a 1 mile fun run) and asking me questions about the details of race day.

This morning we got up and walked a block down the road to an annual race here in our own little town. The air was bracing but the sun was shining. It was a gorgeous morning to run. Nathaniel had questions about the start, the finish, how he would know where to go. He kept a close eye on the timer counting down to start time, updating me on our time every few minutes.

We did a group warm up to upbeat Christmas music and then we were in the pack, ready to go. He was insistent, he wanted to run the 1 mile race on his own. Suddenly we were off. As we turned down the main street I watched my little guy take off. He was ready. He was determined. He was having fun.

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(Nathaniel, in red, ahead of me.)

There was some confusion about where he was supposed to turn off for the 1 mile run, so my husband went with him and I continued. It was a great route; down our main street, through the golf course sparkling with frost, back up past the library and courthouse, and my energy was high. There, by the final turn were my boys waiting for me. I waved Nathaniel over and together we raced across the finish line. It was so much fun!

People always say “Your children are watching what you do. They pay more attention to what you do than what you say.” That makes me nervous because I am usually acutely aware of all the ways I am failing. Most of the time I am pretty sure that I don’t want my kids to mimic me.

But not in this case. In this instance I am proud that my kids are watching me. I am glad that they are learning from me that they can work hard to achieve things that they never thought possible. I hope they are learning to take care of their bodies. Maybe they are learning that it is always worth it to take time to do things they enjoy in order to nourish their spirits. I hope they are watching me enjoy the fresh air, being outside, noticing beauty around me. I hope they will remember watching me set goals and push myself to accomplish them.

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(Obligatory post-run selfie.)

Nathaniel finished his first race today. He has his sights set on the 5k next year. I am proud of this guy. He did good. We made good memories today. As for me, I have my sights set on a 10k and am even daring to dream of a half-marathon. Why not?

Five Minute Friday: Seasons

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Five Minute Friday is a challenge to write for 5 mintes. No over thinking. No editing. No worrying about it being perfect before hitting publish. Just 5 minutes to write.

This weeks prompt: Seasons

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I love the changing of the the seasons. It satisfies something in me. It is a physical reminder of a deep seated need to mark the constant changing of me, the turning of time. Moving mindfully with the seasons gives me permission to move on, to let go, to look forward.

The season of Advent has begun and for me it is a season of rest. The bustle of fall is over and the cooling air and early evening darkness encourage us to cozy up at home. I putter around the house stringing lights and putting things in order. I want to create an environment that the boys will remember with fondness. I want them to remember the season of waiting. The lights, the candles, the Jesse tree in the middle of the dining room, the evenings spent reading special books by the twinkling lights. There is magic here as we wait for the birth of Christ.

It is a season of reflection. I look back on the year that has passed and see the good, and the bad. I think about the ways I have changed and the things I have learned. I scribble notes. I marvel at the wonder that is “God with us.” Always, out of love, and even on the darkest of days, God is with us.

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To see other Five Minute Friday writings, or to link up your own, go here.

November

IMG_2357November has already passed. I never finished my 31 day writing challenge in October, but I wrote all but three days I think, so that is something. I still haven’t decided if writing on a blog is something I want to keep doing. Honestly, I have so many thoughts swirling around like leaves in my head and I don’t know how to pin them down. Most days they remain illusive.

November is a tough month for me these days. Three years ago in early November we rode the roller coaster of being matched with a potential foster-to-adopt placement and by the end of the month we had decided not to actively pursue adoption any more. So guilt lays heavy on me and I feel the lethargy and apathy that signal the onset of a mild depression that shades my days grey. Some days it just seems easier to numb myself with a screen and mindless entertainment. Yet the autumn sun shines crisp and the world around me is aflame with color. I wrestle with the dichotomy of feeling in the depths of me that we made the right decision but also feeling like I failed somehow.

And this November horrible things were happening around the world. My Facebook feed became a battleground of opinions and name calling and destructive criticism and condescending memes. ┬áMy mind and heart couldn’t disengage and I finally had to just turn it off.

Last week we celebrated the American holiday of Thanksgiving. It is an opportunity to gather with friends and family, reminding each other of God’s goodness. We need to remind each other. We need to speak thanksgiving out loud because sometimes we forget. I have let myself forget about the goodness of God as I have let the anxiety and doubt take over.

“Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see — how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.”
-Psalm 34:8&9 (The Message)

There is the reminder – my guilt and anxiety are a result of me looking at myself. They are a result of my pride, my need to accomplish, my desire for people to think well of me. Me, me, me. Speaking thanksgiving takes my eyes off of me. Worshiping God through thanksgiving reminds me of who He is.

Last week we were running around the track. The sky was grey and we were struggling through our miles just going around and around. As I turned the corner I lifted my head and saw the clouds part long enough to show me a sky colored pink and purple. On my next lap the color was gone, swallowed up again by the clouds. I had almost missed it.

I don’t want to miss want God is doing. I don’t want to get so caught up in my own thoughts, despair, the daily grind that I miss the beauty that God is working in the world. I want my eyes to be open to see.