Thursday, May 18, 2017


i started teaching music this year.
It all started with a desire last year to build something i had been kind of dreaming of for years and years: a musicianship course for adults that opened up the doors to music that often seem closed after a certain age. My desire was to teach a little functional music - some chording, basic harmonies, a little theory and ear training... an eclectic offering, using video clips, group participation, song writing... I wanted to teach a general appreciation for music; something that would gently open doors and invite in - without intimidating or overwhelming. i worked for months, pulling out stuff i had saved on shelves for years, decades even. i scrawled out outlines for lessons and took myself out for coffee dates to organize them into bite sized pieces. i picked what i had found to be the most useful pieces, and i tried to translate some of my experience into lessons that might be useful to someone who hadn't lived them... i photocopied and created and watched videos and dreamed. I phoned music teachers that i knew and i asked them questions. I inserted their suggestions into the curriculum and re-wrote, knowing that I would probably need to keep tweaking it forever, but hoping to build something that I could be proud of. I typed out each one of the weekly lessons and organized handouts that i hoped would help clarify what i taught, and empower people to *do*... And finally, i was kind of... done.
"What do i do now?" i wondered as i looked at my tidy file folders holding my precious curriculum.
This was a much harder, much more uncomfortable part.
i wrote posts on Facebook trying to explain what i had made.
i offered my little course out to the universe...
And a few sweet souls accepted the invitation.
i had hoped for between 6-8 students - i felt like that number would be perfect for the group activities, without intimidating. i wanted it to be intimate. We ended up with 5.
i had anxiety each of the six nights that i taught the course.
The week i finished teaching it, i had already decided to teach it again.
Armed with ideas to make it better, i attacked my notes and handouts. i fixed, i clarified, i added and deleted.
i made another offering out to the universe.
Two. Only two replied. But then i started getting phone calls from people who wanted to take some private lessons. They weren't interested in taking the course, but wanted to know if i'd teach a little voice or a little piano.
I decided to go ahead with my two students in my course. i still had anxiety, but it was less - and i felt like i improved - i knew some things that were going to work, and some things that weren't... i was also surprised by some things that were harder or easier the second time. The dynamics were totally changed with a new group. I realized that it would never be boring because *people* make it a new and unique experience every single time.
i found myself growing, learning and gaining understanding through my private lessons. People came so differently and uniquely gifted... i transcribed chord progressions from video games, listened to country music, created set lists that would facilitate learning musical transitions or appropriate chording patterns. Some of my students had more classical training than i did... but i never felt like i came to them empty handed, and some of them were so gifted in encouragement - that i felt empowered as a teacher and my confidence grew.
i decided to offer my course again and this time, i would aim to offer it to children. i posted on homeschool boards on Facebook and fished for interest... but i knew i couldn't offer my course to children without tweaking the content. Week by week, i rewrote my material - substituting exercises for ones that i thought would appeal to children. Mollen - my constant cheerleader - told me i needed to create a student handbook and so did. i bought colourful duotangs and filled them with the handouts i thought we could get through in six weeks.
It was hard... but teaching the course was hard too. We ended up with eight. Finally a full class!
i fumbled and stumbled... i'd lose them and their attention often...
But they were bright and creative... They were kind and capable... They were curious and willing...
And i loved it again.
And now that the school year is wrapping up, i'm finding that much of my teaching will wrap up for the summer too. i'll keep a few stragglers and i do have hope that i'll be able to pick up steam again in the fall.
i'm growing again.
And growth is hard and kind of fun - but also maybe a little melancholy and sad too (i have time for this because my little ones are growing, and needing less of me... and literally needing to *please have less mom*... not just needing me less... and that's hard and weird and uncomfortable and sad and probably healthy and right too... but i can't see those things through my tears...)
So, in this season too, the Holy Spirit will use music to minister... to coax new growth, to keep me from stagnancy or limitations.
"You wanna see healing and growth in your life, my paige? Then, let's see you give..."
And so i offer.
And He multiplies.
And i grow.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Good Friday

i had worship team practice on Tuesday this week. i was helping out with some back up vocals and as we wrapped up, i asked if i could pray for reconciliation in relationships over this holiday where believers around the world celebrate Christ's death and resurrection. I prayed for families to be restored & friendships... but over & above all that, i prayed for a softening of hearts to be reconciled to their Creator. 
Later on in the week, Elmer had been sent to his bed for some behavioural infraction... i climbed up the steps and kneeled beside his tiny sobbing form. He's only three, but he's a bright, articulate little boy - always saying things that take me just a little off guard. 
"I wish i was just always a good boy!" he cried... and i almost cried with him, "oh honey - i wish i could always be good too! i know exactly how you feel!" i stumblingly explained to him that we are always becoming - that as we grow, every decision changes us and that i was so proud of his desire for 'goodness'. 
Finally Friday arrived and my mind was on other things... i had a turkey in the oven, my kids were coming over for a feast, i hadn't had time to vacuum and we left the breakfast dishes out... but we settled into our seats in the dimmed sanctuary and i held my tiniest son on my lap as they played a video that explained the fall of man - and our desperate need for a saviour.
Elmer turned to me and asked, "But... who will save us mom? Who will save the world?"
The story had suddenly come alive for him - and he started to connect the dots... i whispered explanations throughout the service and his little heart soaked them up, seeking clarification and understanding. Finally, we were taking communion and i told him that communion was something that is done to remember Christ's sacrifice for us - it's something that people do, who have accepted that Jesus is Lord in our lives and in our hearts... 
He told me he wanted Jesus to be Lord in his heart, and so with my hand cradling his tiny head - we whispered a prayer of submission and then his hazel eyes met mine and he smiled at me.
& i honestly don't remember these moments of surrender with all my children... some stuck out to me over time more than others - but i know that i serve a Faithful Father - who heard my prayers for softening and reconciliation and He called my tiny son to come and be reconciled to Him - and Elmer heard... and obeyed. 

Monday, April 10, 2017


i've done this thing this past year where i've tried to get outside more. It started this fall when i started running across the street to the park in the afternoons and running up and down the hill a few times. It was kind of what blogging used to be for me - just a few quiet moments to let my mind run wild and free reaching back and forwards, stretching out of the here and now and the must gets done to the what-ifs and flipping over the days gone by in my hand like a multicoloured stone that has been polished by the ocean.
i stopped when it got too cold and icy... i replaced it with marching around our kitchen island, up and down the stairs, around my loop over and over again... i would read a book to show my little ones that mama was occupied, and the little afternoon rise in heart rate did wonders for my winter blues... But as the snow has melted, i've found myself grabbing on my shoes and running for the hill when i can. 
Sometimes i have music in my headphones and i dance up and down the hills arms and legs flailing like a fish on a boat's deck... Sometimes i just want a minute - just a little minute... to breathe, to feel, to praise... And so i do. 
Today, as it is most days, it was Twenty One Pilots... and it was a throw back to their self-titled album & a song called, "a car a torch a death"... 

The air begins to feel a little thin
As I start the car and then I begin
To add the miles piled up behind me
I barely feel a smile deep inside me

And I begin to envy the headlights driving south
I want to crack the door so I can just fall out
But then I remember when you packed my car
You reached in the back and buckled up your heart

For me to drive away with
I began to understand
Why God died

& as i listened, it hit me... this is motherhood. 
watching these tiny wreck of human beings bundle up into a car... a little metal cage that will hurtle them down a highway full of danger and temptation... 
& strapping my heart in their back seat.... 
over and over and over again... 
And i refuse to care less - and it would be impossible to care more. And i'm invested, i'm all in, there's no turning back... 
And there are all these little people - driving around with my heart buckled in their back seats.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

fair trade

There are things that i've gone through in my life that i had understood at the time to be moments that i had to learn purely to trust. People spoke about purpose in pain, and i thought that the ability to grasp the purpose was like some magical mathematical algorhythm that i lacked the capacity to understand. Pain was something i could accept with blind faith, but i never had an expectation or hope for complete understanding. i've always been ok with that. i didn't look for purpose or reasoning to understand my pain... As far as i was concerned, i figured my Father had reasons that might be generations in the making - and i trusted Him - and that was enough.
Recently though, He has given me clear insight into some of the why's of my life. And that insight itself is some kind of strange, painful beauty. Pain in the reliving of my own grief, and beauty in seeing where He has brought me since. i am able to recognize and remember moments of confusion and agony and apply it in situations that would have boggled my mind before.
i'm aware.
And i wonder if that is some small gift that comes with age and experience... To compensate for the fine lines and soft sagging flesh, we get tiny glimpses of understanding.
It might be a worthwhile trade.

Monday, March 13, 2017


"Often, the most precarious part of a mounting, sustained line is found not in approaching the climactic notes, but in descending from them. Breath energy has been expended improperly on the dramatic "high" note, with nothing left in reserve." - The Structure of Singing by Richard Miller

i've been reading my vocal class text book from college. i pace around the kitchen making weird sounds as my husband watches sports on the couch with my boys, laughing as i try vocal exercises - weighing their value and my understanding of the technique required to perform them properly. i often have to read and re-read whole sections before i understand them - it's a slow, plodding read, but i do find i'm re-learning a ton, and i am enjoying it. 

i came to the quote above last night and i read it a couple of times before highlighting it in sunshine yellow. i want to remember that. Sometimes beauty is in the ability to hold on after the dramatic high - to remain constant and supported during the re-descending. i felt like that passage uniquely captures a tiny piece of mothering in these strange in between years - where i have adult children and a three year old. And of course, i would be a fool to assume that it's possible to hold anything in reserve from those years of sleep deprivation and baby making and the laundry and food and constant, perpetual action... but as the author describes the skills that need mastering in order to avoid cumulative strain and fatigue - as he explains that when we lack the ability to make rapid adjustments freely - the vocal instrument is sure to tire - it hits home. As the melodic phrase of my child bearing years has come to it's height and begins it's descent, i want to be faithfully sustaining the passage that follows as well as i live my life in sostenuto. 

"The ultimate test of technical ability lies in sustained singing. Energy and power are frequently required, but these attributes of the good singer must be balance by freedom."- The Structure of Singing by Richard Miller

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

learning to teach

Knowing something and having the capacity to teach it are two very different things.

I'm learning new things, and for each new thing i learn, i dissect it in my mind and try to organize it into a lesson - something digestible to a person wanting to learn. Things that have become intuitive for me over the years, little frills or licks on the piano, vocal effects, breath support or vocal onset... have become things that i slow down, pick apart, analyze and then offer back.
i'm enjoying the challenge, and i do feel like i'm getting better at it as i use one way of expressing an idea with one student and i see the lightbulb go off & then i file it away to use again with the next person. i'm gaining experience - and i'm so grateful to these first students who are so graciously gifting me with the opportunity of obtaining it.

But over and above all that, i want to share the one thing that motivates my desire to teach.

It's a single thought - and i'm sure that without it, i probably would have already quit... but i was praying about teaching one day, and i was struck with the knowledge that it's all about the people. As the idea hit... not idea - "transformative knowledge" is maybe a better way of phrasing it... i pulled out my "to do" list where i jot down ways to get better or things i want to accomplish that are outside of my normal.
i wrote my name... getting my future self's attention, and put a box around it.
"Paige, remember: God loves people. This is so important. Figure out how to incorporate this into every step."
Beside it, i placed a little empty check box... so that i would always see it and remember that i'm not done pouring out for people - the ones loved by Him - the ones He gives me to teach and to love too.

So, there is my snippet of thought on this Wednesday afternoon as i prepare another lesson and research method and technique and transpose another song that will be sung... Over, above and wound through this little bit of effort is the knowledge that i use to act upon:
God Loves People. This... This is what matters.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Something to offer

i've started teaching music.
i started writing a big post about how that all came to pass, but realized that i don't feel like writing it all down just yet... But i want to write about my music lessons.
i've been teaching a group musicianship class, but also some private lessons for piano or voice. It has been an almost painful stretching growth for me to learn how to teach... and it has felt so perfectly right.
One of the first requests for private lessons that i got was one that almost crushed me with intimidation. It was an inquiry from a music teacher. She taught classical lessons, but said she was interested in learning a little chording, improvisation and accompaniment - the things that i was offering. She asked if she could come meet me to see if i would be a good fit for her. We met, and under and around and over my fear and worry - i could tell that i just loved her.
Sometimes it's really, really hard to see any value in your own skill set. 
I had decided before she arrived that i would speak a little discouragingly - if she still wanted lessons, then i'd teach - but i'd be very careful not to promise anything above what i was able. She left from the meeting assuring me that i had what she wanted and she looked forward to our first lesson.
She gently spoke encouragement over each lesson - practicing furiously each little piece that i taught her, and encouraging me to see that i had something to offer.
Between each lesson, i was in agony. The door would shut behind her and i would moan, "Oh Lord, what on earth will i teach her next week?" i would attack my bookshelves looking for ideas and move my hands in slow motion over the keyboard, "How on earth do i do this?" i would figure out the theory behind what my hands naturally wanted to do so that i could show her how... And each week, a whisper of inspiration would strike and i'd ask her cautiously, "Would this be a helpful skill?"
Sometimes she would say, "Yes!" & sometimes she would say, "Nah, i probably wouldn't use that..." But every week, i learned something new, and every week she improved.
I feel like i'm being stretched, learning how to examine the things that i know... how to really look at them and figure out how to pass on which pieces that might have value. My hope is that my students learn as much as i feel like i am learning in these months as i am learning how to teach - and i am so grateful to each one for giving me this chance to grow.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our Second Family

It's weird how that kind of worked out.
It was another evening with a bunch of little boys piled on the couch tucked in and around their dad watching *sporting event*.
i glanced at the TV... "Football's over... i thought it was football you guys were into?"
"It's not football, it's just sports. Sports never ends. It's always in season."
My college girl looked at me, "I'm confused... i still thought we were a fiddle/jamming family..."
"Nope," my husband replied cooly, "That was our last family. Our new family is a sports family."
This week, my littlest girl is on a road trip with her grandma and my bigger girls are all out interfacing with the world. My little homeschool is overrun with testosterone and little wrestling boys who are constantly needing snacks and reminders to shut down the wii.
i used to feel bad for Neil being so desperately outnumbered by girlies. He patiently listened to squeaking fiddles and watched fashion shows. He tenderly combed long hair and endured countless hours of girl talk...
But i see him now, with a satisfied smirk on his face as his boys grow like weeds around him. The seasons brought about a surprising change, and now i am the one who is outnumbered. Even my tiniest boy climbs out of my arms to tear off his shirt and pound his chest as he jumps into the fray to wrestle with his boys.
And so i'm learning how to mama my boys as they grow - even though it feels so very different to me than it did with my girls, and i'm finding my footing loving these boys *and* girls in the order and timing they were given... and it's all joy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Little Spice

Cai and i have been trying to have a date every month...
This month, we met at a little Indian restaurant that she picked. The server had brilliant blue eyes that sparkled against his dark skin and Chris Tomlin thrummed from their speakers. It smelled amazing. She was running a little late, so i waited, watching the window & felt my cheeks pull and rise into a deep smile as i finally saw her blonde head bobbing in the window - blue eyes searching for me...
There's something about watching your child look for you. At church last Sunday, i went to pick up Ephraim and Gage from their class and i was surrounded by parents taller than myself, but between their shoulders, i could see his platinum curls and his sky blue eyes searching faces... searching, searching... until his eyes locked with mine. His face was wreathed in grins and his tiny skinny legs started hopping as he called out and waved to me. He knew i was his, and that he is mine. And it struck me as i reached out my arms to him, how there were all these little pairings of parent and child at that doorway - each one magnetized to the other, in perfect matching sets.
She let in a tiny burst of spring air as she opened the door.
She's like food; like air, sun, light, warmth, softness and refreshment... all wrapped into a tiny passionate package.
Back home, folding laundry, Gage asked me, "So, how was your lunch with Cairo?"
"It was good, Gagey. So good. Sometimes i really miss her. I miss her living here with us..."
Time is measured so differently when you're a child. He lived with her for his first eight years, but these last 6 months she has been gone have felt like a whole other lifetime to him.
"I miss Colin."
"Yeah, i miss Colin too."
One can never have enough big brothers, and Colin with his gentle baritone and open arms has been with us so long, that Gage doesn't even remember a time when he wasn't...
But they are each other's more than they are ours now... Their own little entity - their own little circle of gravity envelopes them and keeps them orbiting each other... What kind of crazy alchemy is it that makes takes two and makes one? That separates from origin in order to create something new, something precious, something awe-inspiring in it's fragile beginnings? Marriage just takes my breath away.
The kids often ask me, "Are we nine in our family or are we eleven?"
And i never know how to answer.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A day

Found this post in my drafts folder...
i knew that season was brief. i don't know why i didn't press publish on this one. i need to write more, "a day" posts... it helps me to remember. Obviously written in the fall, a year and a half ago.


It's a daddy travelling season of life, but for some reason, i feel like we've caught our stride.

Elmer potty trained suddenly right around his second birthday in June and to our surprise, he started sleeping through the night at the same time. My body hardly remembers what it's like to be rested and alert during the day. We also found out that a lot of his high needs nature had to do with our communication problem - that little boy needs subtitles. But as his language has developed, his frustration has decreased. Goodbye, baby... hello, big boy. He's still mind-bogglingly loud and bossy, but as eighth born, maybe that's just a defence mechanism God gave him so he'd be heard.

Ephraim started losing teeth this year. It amplifies his sweet speech impediment. He has platinum blond curls and sometimes i wonder if his face is made out of plasticine cause he can bend it in the most amazing ways to make the craziest faces. i'm teaching him to read. It can sometimes be laborious and tiring... i'm not a great teacher and i am trying to remember to be patient. A trick that i learned when i was teaching Cairo to read that i've used with every child since her is to look at their fingers when i start to get impatient. It reminds me how little they are, and it reminds me to be kind to them when they are still so wee - trying to learn something as difficult as reading. i don't know why their stubby little fingers with dirty fingernails do this to me, but it has worked for the six before him and it is working now. i love those little hands.

Gage is doing grade two. He's one of those weird kids where things just come easy for him. School is easy, he's athletic, sings like an angel, he's tall and handsome. But he's tender... He's all deep waters, feeling sadness or joy with more depth than you'd think possible at seven. Sometimes he laughs till he cries. He did that after Cairo told him that she's engaged. When he prays, there's a tenderness that testifies that his faith is his own.

Mollen and Charter are both entering the season of good-bye. Maybe some other parents of teenagers know what i mean when i say that. There's this healthy good-bye that happens as they transition out of childhood and into adulthood. It can be agonizing for everyone cause there are so many feelings - sometimes anger or sadness. They need time away from us - time with friends, and i honestly don't think i'd be strong enough to do this if Cairo hadn't taught me that after the goodbye comes the hello again... and it's all familiar and different and poignant and the same.

Peyton is at the cusp of the hello. But she's at public school this year and i miss her like crazy. When she comes home, i want to inhale her like she's oxygen. She's making me content in my decision to let her go to public school this year by working hard and by showing her maturity in getting herself up early, making lunches, catching her busses on time and getting her homework done. Grade 10 isn't easy - & i know how hard she's working to keep up.

Sloan is homeschooling for grade 12, but she's hardly home more than Peyton. She's holding down her job at Tim Hortons and her classes are so challenging, she spends much of the time she's at home holed up in her room listening to e-lives and doing online school. i miss her too. But when she comes up for air, she wrestles the boys or cleans the kitchen beside me while we talk. She got our whole homeschool to watch her favourite kids tv series as part of our homeschool this year and most of the time i just put out of my mind the fact that this is her last year. It all still sort of feels still so far away that it can't be real.

If Peyton and Sloan aren't home enough for me... i don't know how to describe Cai's absence. Only 11 more months of her being in my house, under my roof... all 8 of my sweet chicks in our crowded little nest. Three years - that's all i'll get with *everyone* all living together. She's breaking us in gently - her classes get her up and out of the house early and her evenings are full of meetings, volunteering and plans that i can never keep straight. She sometimes scarfs down leftovers out of the fridge long after i've gone to bed and if i'm lucky i'll catch her for a minute or two in the early morning minutes before she slips out the door when it's still dark outside. In less than 11 months, she'll be a wife with a home of her own. i'm so proud and happy - but... i know i'll miss her so much.

Neil and i never run out of things to talk about these days. i get up at 6:15 and when he's not travelling we have coffee together till 6:45 and in between the companionable silence we make each other little offerings of conversation. i miss him when he's gone too. It will be twenty years this may. Twenty years of being his wife, of never getting enough of him, of carrying his babies and keeping his home. Marriage has been such a sweetness in my life - my favourite gift from God.

So there's a little snapshot of our family in what feels like will be a very short season.

Monday, January 30, 2017


Sometimes people do cool things with their voice that kinda wake me up and make me pay attention. Little melodic runs that are out of my range, or their ears pick up some strange mode and they are able to put it in some crazy syncopated rhythm that enhances whatever it is being sung. Sometimes after i hear something like that, i'll pause the music and try to re-create it. i'll try again and again and again... until my mind can at least understand what it is they've done and i can scratch out some kind of weak imitation.
i've never been a really stellar piano player. My playing has always been about function - background rhythm and chords... My playing is accompaniment at it's best... noise at it's worst.
But i play.
In music - as in so many, many areas of life, the reign of elitism has squashed so many of the singers. It has quieted so many of the players. It has shamed so many of the timid makers of music.
Worse, it has fanned flames of perfectionism in performers, and misplaced the authentic mess that comes with artistic expression.
i'm learning to stop being afraid of that mess.
i want to learn to live my life that way: doing my best, and encouraging the same in others. i want to admire the beauty in the polished auto-tuned art... and in the rough mess of pitchy, wobbly vulnerability too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

punching bag

A friend with a grown son recently told me how he had regretfully admitted to her that during his teen years, he "used her as a punching bag"...
My friend kinda sighed - but it was a happy sigh. She loves her son and her love wasn't lessened or dimmed by his adolescent misplaced fury.
I'm watching my oldest four walk with so much grace through their teen years. Some things haven't changed so much since I was a teen, and in so many ways - I feel like they're making a better way than I ever did... but I'd be lying if I claimed that teen years don't have any pain at all.
I'm clinging to a few truths during these years - and i think these truths are things that have shaped the kind of mama i have become as my littles have grown...

1. Relationship matters more than pretty much everything else. A clean room, a good report card, a spotless driving record, a respectful mouth... these are all beautiful things - but I'm not trading my relationship to get them.

2. Adding to that concept, i really believe that without truth, we can't have relationship. That's one thing i love love love about Neil. He has never been afraid or timid about calling me on my idiocy. He has challenged me, called me out... and all around encouraged me to become a better, more thoughtful person. Without truth, the relationship is often one-sided - or hollow... Bring on truth - even when it hurts.

3. When i think of them, i try to act on it immediately. Sometimes i'll go pray by their door, pick up my phone and send a text, make a note in my calendar to take some action...

4. When they come to me... sometimes i'm touched out, talked out, burned out... but oh, how i want them to come to me. i do my very best to soften my expression, open my posture, make my stance one of welcome... i try to make eye contact. Sometimes in the past, they've tried to share a song with me, or something that moved them - and either i didn't take the time to click that youtube link, or didn't take the mental energy to make any kind of connection as to why it would move them. i'm trying to break those bad habits.

5. When i get my feelings hurt, i don't wanna pout... i wanna have thick skin, a soft heart and a forgiving spirit. i want my loves to feel safe with me - i want to be unreasonable in my affection and exceedingly abundant in my mercy.

When Sloanie was tiny, she climbed softly into our room and softly whined, "It's so hard being three.." And each age has it's difficulties and sorrows... the teen years are no different. My prayer is that i will be the kind of mama that softens the blows and equips my people to be the kind of people who shine a light into darkness.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


It's hard for me to even recognize fear, but i'm getting better at it.
Since i started diligently working out and working on muscles, flexibility, strength, agility and just general athleticism over the past few years, there have been a few times that i've surprised myself. One of them stands out to me. Two winters ago, Neil took me downhill skiing for the first time in at least twenty years. i wasn't an awesome skier by any stretch as a kid, and then with the time that has passed, i thought i would spend the day sliding down a hill on my bum... We got to the top of the first run, and i started skiing down... and to my shock, i kept up. My legs moved where i wanted them to. i was fast and confident and it felt easy... We got to the bottom and Neil looked at me with a funny look on his face. "Neil!" i gasped, "i'm AWESOME at this!!"
He kinda laughed, but my shock was sincere... i hadn't given any credit at all to the fact that i work out daily and that i *should* be able to do some things.
i've always been the one who sat out during beach volleyball. My reflexes are terrible. i LOVE individual sports that take stamina and grit (hiking, running, biking) but team sports have never been my jam... i'm always afraid that i'll stand out as the weakest link, the one who brings the team down... the one they wish would just sit out, the one who gets hit, but never hits the ball.
And i have hardly ever recognized my unwillingness to participate as fear. i've named it other things, (i'm too busy, i'm just not good enough, they don't need me...) i've hidden behind my babies. i've told myself i'd rather not.
Lately, i've looked at some of these things with a little bit of raw honesty... It's not that i don't want to teach music... it's that i'm afraid that i'm not good enough. It's not that i don't want to leave my house, it's that i hate being alone, i'm kind of afraid of it. These past few years, i've obeyed when God has asked me to stretch out my neck and enter into the fray, and you know what? Those experiences weren't all as successful as that first day out skiing. It has been painful, and rejection has made my cheeks burn and my fears scream because they found out they were well founded. It HURTS to hold out your hand and nobody shakes it. Anytime you try anything, you might be left hanging, you might be the weak link, you might fail, you might be rejected.
But i'm starting...
i'm accepting when my son challenges me to a push-up competition. I try a box jump that seems huge. I do the monkey bars and i work on my chin ups...
i'm so, so tired of lacking the confidence to just try...
So, i think i will.
A friend posted a quote on FB that said, "The prophetic doesn't tell you what to do, it awakens who you are." I think i'm ready to wake up.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

More On Setting Goals

i have a few friends who have kind of *courageously* plucked lovely little pieces of life as they have mothered and homeschooled little broods not unlike mine. i've always looked at my mama friends who were able to balance a lot of lovely little add-ons as something 'other' than me. Some had interesting careers, some gardens, handiwork, volunteer work for organizations that stretched their hearts... They seemed to be able to find direction and just... fly.  And i? Felt the stillness of the air around me as i kept my two feet planted firmly on the ground. 
I knew that God had, in this season, planted me thus, partly because of my husband's career - which has been demanding and full of strange hours and travelling... and God knew that i needed to be here, and available for the people He had asked me to serve. 
But I was talking to one of these friends the other day about goal setting. I was trying to encourage her. Because i'm a few years older, and past some of the sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion that she's in the midst of, i feel like i have a bit of perspective. She had said she felt a bit scattered this year, and i replied, "Yea, and your focus is a little different out of necessity - with so many tinies... You're still just so good at reaching out and grabbing at life. i'm not." 
As a little background; this is a mom who has worked as an LPN, organized an entire event that still occurs annually surrounding early infant death and still birth in her area that has impacted hundreds of families. This is a woman who with a house full of children, upgraded her LPN with a foot-care class so that she could better serve the people in her community who needed her. Then, when the time came, she extended her maternity leave so she could stay home and homeschool. Then last year, she dove into starting her own little home side business. This is a woman who just gets things done. 
She messaged me back and challenged me, "i feel like you are though?"
i couldn't see it... i saw lost opportunities, or failed offerings or long seasons of watching and tending a homefire that needed care... "We'll see..." i replied, "i'm willing... but it's so hard to SEE where He wants me to take steps!" 
"I think maybe we're all like that, but to others it looks like we're grabbing at life?! Your book. Your website. Your blog. Your music course. Your other music offerings. Your kids. Your workouts."

And suddenly, in a little puff of encouragement, i could see myself differently. Not with a track record of pathetic little failed offerings, but instead, with a fist full of lovely little blossoms of life that God has allowed me to grasp, and breathe in their fragrance... (and sometimes let go of too). And a lot of these little blossoms came about because i took the time to be quiet and ask for direction, and pursue the things that brought me joy for His glory. So, in light of the new year, and resolutions and fresh beginnings, i want to share some of the thoughts that i have on goal setting. 

For starters, I try to pick something that I wouldn't normally do if I didn't resolve to do it! When I wanted to learn to run, I signed up for a 10k race. I had never done anything like that before, but by resolving to run a 10k, I knew I would gain a neat experience that would teach me about running! i'm never gonna forget my littles cheering for me as my feet pounded that trail. It was a fantastic goal that gave me joy in it's pursuit. This year, i made a resolution to complete 365 workouts in 2017! Now, normally - i would work out lots, and i'd have lots of active rest and rest days too! But i was inspired by another mama of 8 who completed the challenge to, "push play every day" and so i joined in! i'm looking forward to seeing the impact that this goal has on my life. 

Secondly, I try to choose goals that have measurable outcomes! For example, instead of, "eat healthier", I might make it my goal to hit certain macros 5 days a week! Macros are something that i  can measure, and when I track my macros, it helps me be mindful of the big picture of my nutrition. This year, i didn't have a burning desire to get finicky about my nutrition, so i went a different direction. i wanted to write more... but i have felt unable to these past few years, so I made it my goal to write on my blog once a week. By the end of the year, i should have 52 tiny snapshots of thought in 2017... and i hope i get to be a better writer in the process.

I also try to choose goals that have an ending. One year, I wanted to write a book, so I thought hard about what message was important enough to write about. After that, I chose a vehicle (simple story line) that I could use to communicate that message. That January, I signed up for Nanowrimo. It was a way to commit a chunk of time to write. The chunk of time was the month of November. My husband and kids knew I had committed to it and they were supportive and patient with me while I gave it my all for that month. At the end of the month, I had completed my first rough draft. It's not a New York Times bestseller, but it's a little piece of my worldview that I wanted to capture... and I did it! If it had been an open ended goal, i might have lost heart, but because there was an end in sight, i could focus on that task and my family could support me knowing it wouldn't last forever. i really would love to do Nanowrimo again another year, but i know that this year is just not the right time. This year, my daughters challenged me to read a 365 day devotional... My three oldest daughters are 20, 18 and 16. One is married, another enrolled at a local college and the third one is my lone public schooled kid. They are always going in different directions, and there is such a comfort in looking at scripture and knowing their eyes are reading it too. It's a one year commitment... but only a year. We can finish strong because we know we can *finish*.

Finally, I try to look at different areas of my life and decide where I need a little push. Sometimes I make goals to be consistent with a certain area of homeschool, sometimes it's a spiritual goal, sometimes an area in my marriage needs attention... fitness, home organization, passions, friendships, parenting... they are all different areas that are sometimes strong, sometimes weak - all in seasons... Sometimes i look at my goals and think they seem a little shallow... Sometimes they are goals that have the potential to wreck and challenge and change me at my very core. Both kinds of goals have their place... they truly do.

And so i guess looking back, i have made my little grabs at life. And i intend on continuing to do so with courage and intention - as we welcome the blessing of a new year.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Remember when?

I was getting dressed in the morning and Elmer looked at me earnestly, "Momma, remember when i used to like boo so much?"
"Yeah, i remember that. It was a long time ago, eh? i'm surprised YOU can remember that..."
i was mentally calculating how long it has been since he weaned around his third birthday... Almost seven months.
"I remember." He said solidly, "i was a baby."
"Yeah, i guess you were."
"And when i was a baby, my name was Jack."
So maybe not all his memories are entirely accurate.


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