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Wednesday, September 23, 2015


word of the day: unsubscribe /ˌənsəbˈskrīb/ cancel a subscription to an electronic mailing list or online service.

You can subscribe to a lot of things, but according to the official definition, apparently you can only unsubscribe to mailing lists or online services. Fortunately, that's at least part of the reason why this word is on my brain today.

I get lots of junk emails a day (is my poor word choice here why Lily asks to read "lossa" books lately? Maybe I should bring some stronger words into my daily verbiage). But really, lossa junk emails. I think I was sending 20 some emails into my trash can every day until, in a fit of annoyance, I realized I could probably just unsubscribe. So that's what I've been doing all week. Instead of sending the cruise promotions and YMCA newsletters straight to the trash can, I've been opening them, scrolling to the bottom, and clicking "unsubscribe." One or two clicks later, and I'm free.

Free! (and over-dramatic)

Every time I click “unsubscribe” on an email, I wonder if there are other things in my life I should equally unsubscribe to. Unnecessary junk--in both the literal and figurative sense I suppose. I’m sure there’s lossa it.

Speaking of Lily, she has recently unsubscribed to her pacifier. Jake, ever the voice of reason, told her that pacifiers are for babies and that she’s a big girl to which she replied, “Pacis are for big girls.” (She’s smart, this one.) Anyway, we took it away cold turkey and after a few tearful bedtime routines, I think we may be on the other side.
Norah continues to unsubscribe to everyone who is not me. I keep thinking, “Surely she’ll leave this phase soon,” but then I remember myself as a five-year-old on my mom’s hip and realize that I may have to settle in for the long haul on this one.
Jake recently unsubscribed (for now at least) to in-patient medicine after two. long. months. He’s been home before 3 p.m. every day this week, has the next four weekends free, and

(honestly, I’m so happy about it that I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.)
And me, well, I’ve unsubscribed to summer which is fitting, I suppose, on the first day of fall. It was nice to actually carry summer into September instead of transitioning into school mode while summer danced on without me. We celebrated today by picking apples off of trees and grapes off of vines.

I’ve always been especially fond of the start of a new season because it signals change and new things. Each season envelops the one before; summer, in this case, folds itself into fall. You can’t have one without the other, and I find that the seasons of my life morph in much the same way.

So, as the changing landscape proves the normal way of things, we’ll keep working to get rid of the junk and subscribe ourselves to the good stuff.

First order of business is to turn the apples from the apple orchard into apple crisp. And, minimize my in-box, of course.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


word of the day: good \ˈgu̇d\ of high quality

I’ve been replaying this single line from The Fault in Our Stars in my mind since Saturday. It’s a simple one and it comes toward the end when Augustus is feeling particularly nostalgic about his life. As the wind blows between them, he squeezes Hazel’s hand and says, “It’s a good life, Hazel Grace.”

It’s a good life.

I turned twenty-nine on Saturday and the fault was not in the stars. They aligned perfectly: Jake had the entire day off, fall weather hit our doorstep, my gracious aunts were available and willing babysitters, and Iowa beat Iowa State (special shout out to the bartender at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. for turning the game on for us and to Jake who let me exchange his pre-made plan of a fancy place for a brewery and a football game. I don’t think he was terribly disappointed.).

People always ask you if you feel different on your birthday, and my go-to answer is always, “No.” It’s just another day, after all. But, as I’ve been thinking about this past year, I realize that I am different. I mean, this year me and last year me have very little in common, really. There’s a new kid, a new job, a new house, a new city, and a new state. I’ve learned things about myself and Jake and the girls and parenting and marriage and relationships and life in general that make me incomparable to the 28-year-old version of myself. I think if I passed her on the street, I’d hardly recognize her. I’d probably say something like, “Cute bangs. Have you ever thought about growing them out?” or “You should have kept all your floral print rompers and butterfly clips from the 90s because they’ll totally be back in style soon.” or “You might as well pre-order the new Taylor Swift album when it comes out because you know you’ll end up buying it anyway.”

Birthdays get a bad rap sometimes, don’t they? I stare in the face of thirty now, and I suppose I could dread the approaching decade. Feel “old” or something.

Instead I just feel grateful.

It’s a good life, after all.

Here’s proof:

Lily helped in the making of this cake. The final product is better because it has one giant circle of sprinkles thanks to her artistry. She also got to put the candles on a second cake and got pretty creative (see below).

I traded the view on the left for the view on the right at dinner. The game was tied 17-17 when we tuned in to the fourth quarter. It's about time Iowa pulls through for the Cy-Hawk trophy. (On that note, this is still on my birthday wish list.)

Lily loves having her picture taken.

Friday, September 11, 2015

lie: a conclusion

word of the day: lie \ˈlī\ to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive; to be in a helpless or defenseless state

Love God. Love others.

I wrote four posts about the major lies I fight on a daily basis, and those four words felt a recurring theme of Truth amidst the lies.

Love God. Love others.

That’s what’s at stake.

It doesn’t matter if it’s self-pity or fear or apathy or entitlement; each untruth keeps me from doing the very things I am meant to. They keep me in the same spot. After all, a lie as a noun turns a person into lie as a verb: immobile (that works clearly in my own mind, so I’m going with it).

Conclusion: Philosophy loses out when there isn’t any action to back it up.  In order to beat the lies, I have to fight the immobility.

I read a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes yesterday that sums up my thoughts particularly well:

I find the greatest thing in this world not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it, but we sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

I can take a stand. I can counter lies with truth and talk about how good it is to love God and love others. But unless I sail into the wind and fight the urge to drift or lie at anchor, what good does that philosophy do anybody?  

So I’ll beat on, boat against the current.

(I definitely came up with that last line all on my own and did not borrow it from one of my favorite literary treasures.1)

1Just kidding. Thanks, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

lie: part four.

word of the day: lie \ˈlī\ to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive; to be in a helpless or defenseless state

“You deserve it.”

“It” can be replaced by any number of things, can’t it?

A break. A pedicure. A $5 dollar latte. A trip to Target. A night off of cleaning the kitchen. Some alone time. Some “me” time. Some “I just need 5 minutes” time.

It’s the plight of the stay-at-home mom, I think. When you spend all day tending to the needs of needy, volatile, and, sometimes, hostile human beings, it’s easy to tell yourself you deserve a break or some time to yourself.  

Well, now that I read that paragraph over again, I realize that those three adjectives could also be used to describe the middle schoolers of my former life. Or the patients Jake spend his current life with. Or really, people in general.  So, maybe it’s just the plight of existence.

Time to rejuvenate is good. Give me an hour browsing the clearance racks at Target, and I’ll come back a brand new version of myself. But, make no mistake, I don’t deserve that time. ‘Need’ and ‘deserve’ are two fundamentally different things, and I start to get into trouble when I begin to use them interchangeably.  

This lie again (and to no surprise) causes discord in my relationships. Namely? Marriage. It seems to weasel its way into our house between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. when everyone is getting settled back into the “home” routine. It whispers things like, You worked hard all day; she really expects you to do that now? or You changed all the diapers for the past 12 hours; he can change them all for the next 2 or He doesn’t know how hard it is chasing two kids all day; you deserve a quick shower by yourself (which, if you’re like me, is never actually ‘quick’).

This one, I think, requires a bit of a litmus test. Take that last scenario, for instance. Do I want to take a shower because I’ve been using mashed sweet potatoes as a styling agent for two days or because I want Jake to deal with the crazy alone for the 45 remaining minutes before bedtime? If it’s the latter, the shower needs to wait.

Jesus didn’t make a habit of coddling people; He just said again and again, “Follow me.” And, each time He said it, people had to form an immediate response. Peter and Andrew left their nets in the water and followed (Matthew 18-22); whereas, the rich young man walked away sadly because he couldn’t bear to give up everything he had in that moment (Matthew 19:16-22).

It’s a question of whether I’m willing to die to myself in those moments, really. I am continually reminded that all God asks me to do is love Him and love others. I don’t make the list. In those moments when I feel like I deserve something for myself, I’m off center. I’m focusing on the wrong things.

Instead of taking a shower as soon as Jake gets home, it’s far more valuable for me to spend time with our family unit as a whole. Instead of trying to even the tally of diapers changed, it’s more valuable for me to continue to share the load (is that a poor choice of words?). And, it’s far more valuable for Jake to pitch in around the house and give all he has for us even though he’s exhausted from working a thirteen hour day (I know this because I watch him do it every single night. He’s a good egg, that one.).
A life that revolves around what I need or think I deserve is a life out of focus. It’s selfish.

I don’t want that life. I want to die to myself. Even when it’s really, really hard.

Like when all I want to do is finish my episode of The West Wing as Norah wakes up from her nap or when I just want to sing my favorite song on the radio as Lily asks me to sing “Baby Beluga” for the four millionth time.

I'm a work in progress, people.