Worn In vs. Worn Out

My kids are very different.  Aside from the fact they are over a decade apart in age and are different sexes, there are many others things that are night and day.  However, there is one idiosyncrasy I’ve noticed that they share.  They like things that are worn in.  My daughter prefers clothing, particularly jeans, from a second hand store.  My son prefers his shoes to be second hand.  In other words, worn in.

Once this thought came into my head I immediately thought about the difference between being worn in and worn out as moms.  So often we are just worn out.  Worn out with all those things that need to be done.  As a wife or mom, whether you bristle at it or welcome it, your home and taking care of your family is your calling.  It is a Divine thing.  Did you ever notice how God created the family first?  Not church or ministry or jobs or friends, but family.  Sure, he gave Adam some chores such as naming the creatures, but Adam was still alone.  To meet Adam’s needs, God gave him Eve – a family.

“Worn in” conjures up feelings of comfy pj’s and slippers, the favorite spot on the couch or your favorite jeans and boots.  Worn in means comfort.  Isn’t that what we want for our families – comfort.  Particularly during this time which gets a lot of lip service about remembering “the reason for the season”.  Choose events during December carefully.  Choose those things that are life giving, not life draining.  Choose those permanent things, not the urgent things.  Usually the things that are screaming the loudest are those things that you can and should ignore.

Ann Voskamp says “Life is not an emergency.”  Most of our daily lives are not urgent.  Dropping things from your calendar to give your family some white space during this season can help you to breathe and relax and breathe new life into your life and those of your family.

Can I encourage you this holiday season to allow yourself to be worn in and comfy?  To be the mom who says “no” to those extra holiday things (although good) just for the sake of not getting yourself worn out.

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Bookshelf – How to Buy a Love of Reading

51q1ZdQ0YGL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Why does a book catch your eye?

Cover? Title? Author? Recommendation? Placement on the shelf?

I can’t explain why I picked this one up at the library.  All of the above except a recommendation.  This was placed prominently on a library shelf on my way to the check out station so I grabbed it.  I had never heard of Tanya Egan Gibson.  Not surprising since this is her first novel.

I’m still struggling to put into words what the story was about or what I think about it.  The gist of the story is a wealthy family in an exclusive suburb in New York (new money which means they are looked down on by the old money families – think Kennedys) who are planning the sixteenth birthday party of their only daughter.  The father made his money creating some sort of fantastic bra and is obsessed with, well, breasts.  The mother came from old money but was disowned when she married her salesman husband so clawing herself back up into the upper echelons of “society” is very important to her.  So important that her daughter is a disgrace to her.  Carley, said daughter, suffers from acne and is overweight.  Two unforgivable sins in this culture.  Gretchen, the mother, is constantly trying to outdo the other moms while at the same time actually trying to convince Carley she should get an eating disorder “just for a while” so that she can fit into a more respectable size.  (Gretchen is a size 00).

Unfortunately Carley is also not exact a brilliant student either which is yet another source of horror to her mother.  Carley hates reading; hates literature of any kind.  So, her mother decides that for her Sweet Sixteen she is going to “buy” her daughter a love of reading.  In other words, she would find an author to accept a commission, come live with them for several months and write a novel with Carley’s input that Carley would like.

There are so many sub-plots.  The characters are not hard to keep track of; but the plot is. My overall sense was that the novel is very satirical.  She entwines (sometimes not very well) teen addiction, eating disorders, uber-wealth, sex, adultery, The Great Gatsby, the publishing industry, the television industry, reality television and, not surprisingly, true love or the lack of it.  The novel ended as it only could but I won’t give a spoiler here.

I struggle to give it a rating.  I did like it, in the sense that it inspired enough interest in me to want to read what happened next but the ending left me feeling ambivalent.  She spent a long time on denouement, almost too long since the ending was predictable.  So, in effect, the climax was anti-climactic.

I suppose if forced I would give it 2 1/2 stars.  Good enough that I didn’t feel my time was wasted but not so good that I felt I came away with anything lasting.  I honestly can’t figure out if it was actually really deep or really shallow.

So again, I ask, what makes you pick up a book?

Wick Trimming

Autumn brings candles.  Mmmm, candles*.  Those who love candles know that you need to trim the wicks unless you want a plume of black smoke to burst straight into the air once the flame catches.

As I lit a candle the other day, I noticed that the wick needed trimming, but I ignored it.  I even told myself in my head that the wick needed trimming, but I didn’t get the scissors and do it.  That got me thinking: what other areas in my life need trimming?  What am I ignoring because I don’t have time, I’m too lazy or I’m too attached to it to trim?

I’ve done a pretty good job at wick trimming in this past year in my outward life.  I have stepped back from some really draining responsibilities that left me empty and my family disgruntled.  I also believed God has blessed my stepping back and has given me a season of rest in order to re-prioritize things in my life and contemplate where our family is headed.  I’ve trimmed the wicks of outside responsibilities so I can focus more on inward things.  The whole family has done this to some extent.  We are slowing adding some things back in, but only those things we love and feel called to do.

However, my inward life continues to need some wick trimming.  There are a few little things I can think of.

Right now one wick that needs attention is my bedtime routine wick.  I get a second wind around 9 pm and, though my day is done and I should head up to bed around this time, I find other things to do.  Growing up, I was a night owl and I have regressed back into those tendencies.  When I do finally put myself to bed it’s usually gone past 11.  I set my phone alarm.  Well, confession, I set four alarms on my phone with drill sergeant messages (which I don’t read).  I ignore all of them.  I fall back asleep and get up groggy and grumpy – not a pretty sight.  I need to trim staying up late regularly so that I can get up earlier in the morning.  I want to be a morning person, I really do.  For a season of my life I was and I loved it.  Especially this time of year when the air is so beautifully crisp and the sunrises take your breath away.  I want to spend time contemplating, praying, listening to God and watching creation come alive – with a steaming cup of coffee in my hands.

Another wick I need to trim is my procrastination streak.  I want to live intentionally so that means streamlining things like housework and meal preparation.  I have taken steps towards this, but I’m always one step forward and two steps back.  I have committed to once a month cooking through a subscription service through Once a Month Meals and it is going well and I’ve recently completed another marathon cooking day.  We’ve eaten and liked every meal but one which mixes BBQ sauce with pasta and cheese.  Why not just use tomato or alfredo sauce?  I didn’t get that one.  The melding of flavors didn’t, well, meld.

But housework…ah…housework.  Let’s just say I love it when things are clean and tidy, I just don’t do well at actually getting it done.  I procrastinate.  Like now.  I should be cleaning my bathrooms but it’s more fun to blog about not doing it.  I do have a chore scheduled for each day (for today it’s CLEAN BATHROOMS) but I find that my rebellious streak not only extends towards others, but towards myself.  I get some sort of guilty pleasure out of ignoring my own lists.  A familiar theme, as in, ignoring my morning alarms.  Is rebellion the root of procrastination?  Possibly, but that’s another post. Can you wait while I write that down on my blog idea list?   Oddly enough I don’t rebel against my blog idea list.

A friendship needs trimming.  I’ve begun that process but it is hard because, well, it just is.  I know there are necessary endings but I don’t want to get this wrong.  My desire is not to burn bridges so I have to be careful how I trim and not allow the smoke in my eyes (hurt feelings and rejection) to blind me so that I trim so much I can’t find that wick when or if the relationship can be redeemed.

Trimming wicks.  Inwardly and outwardly.  A candle is a beautiful and relaxing thing, but it can blow ugly black smoke into our faces if we don’t trim the wicks.

What parts of your life are blowing ugly black smoke into your face or into others’ faces because you’ve got some trimming to do?  Some decisions you must make?  Some activities you must cut?

As an aside: Yankee Candle makes a scent called Turkey Stuffing.  Forgive me, but wouldn’t that get a bit old?  Who wants to smell turkey stuffing day in and day out for weeks?  I love the smell of a turkey roasting over the holidays, but geez, isn’t this going a bit too far?  Unless, it’s for vegetarians…. but then, wouldn’t it make you want leave your Tofurkey on the table and go to the nearest buffet?

Bookshelf – Desperate

41qCbGQbKdL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Since they use a rating system on Good Reads, I suppose I will continue with it.  This is a 5 star one right here, baby.  I really enjoyed this book.  I have read Sarah Mae’s blog for some time now and have two of her ebooks.  She lives not too far from me in Central PA.  I recently also completed reading Educating the Whole Hearted Child by the Clarksons.  How come no one recommended it to me years ago??

Anyhow, this book is written by both ladies following the Titus 2 model of mature women coming alongside young women and helping through their journey, particularly motherhood.  I knew much of Sarah’s back story but it was refreshing to read again about her struggles and her journey to the other side.  I found myself vacillating between both of them since I have an almost adult and a first grader.  There are many things yet to learn and also many things I can give to younger mothers.

I will admit I do find their relationship enviable.  I feel mentors are so hard to find because we are all so busy, busy, busy.  But, are we really too busy or are we just too scared to let people know that we don’t have it all together either, or that we didn’t have it all together?  I know that I and my family would have benefited from a strong mentor relationship if I had only been willing to be vulnerable and admit my many failings.

I would recommend this books for women across the age spectrum.  My only regret is that I read through it alone and not in a community of women.  Perhaps, though, that is yet to come.