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“I Love Her More…”

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

 

I can’t sleep.

I’m not sure if it’s the hormone expressions of a 46 year old woman, the fact that I had to use the bathroom, a text from a friend in the middle of the night asking for prayer, or the fact that my 7 year old son has been sleeping with me for the last week and periodically throughout the night I get a heel in my side or an elbow to the face. We call him a sleeping octopus.

Either way, I just had one of those “Love You Forever,” moments and so now I have been awake since 3:54am.

Parenting isn’t easy.

[Read more…]

Sledgehammers are AWESOME!

Here’s the deal: We moved to Nashville in August 2016 to an Airbnb we thought we’d be in for 3 months. Between August and Easter 2017 we searched for houses on-line and in person, even making offers on some, and were out-bid 3 or 4 times. One house we spent 1.5 hours with an HGTV designer remodeling the whole thing mentally for a potential show, and as we left the house our agent got a call that the sellers accepted an offer while we were standing in it! To say the least, it was getting discouraging! [Read more…]

Sex Ed: 101

ME: “Sweetheart, do you have five minutes?”

Him: “I always have five minutes for you.”

My husband and I both work from home. During the week, he and I tag team the morning routine of kids, food, and hygiene moderation. Then, he usually drives them to school, a 30 minute round trip event, while I get in a quick workout. (Bonus: If I’m the one driving the kids to school, I love the 5 minutes on our local classical channel where the soothing voice of Garrison Keillor tells us word-nerdy things on The Writer’s Almanac.)

Anyway, either way, after we’re both back home before 8 o’clock even rolls around, Jason makes himself a little breakfast while I finish my squats and then we have a 5-minute stand up meeting to start the day. [Read more…]

“How Do You Like Nashville?”

People ask me how I like Nashville. Here’s the scoop: I’m not sold yet.

I haven’t been here enough to know. We moved here last August to a 2-bedroom Airb*nb we planned to stay in until the first of November of 2016. During that 3 month time the plan was to get the kids settled into a school rhythm and then I’d work with our realtor to find a house to live in more permanently. Our things have been in storage at my dad’s house for 2.5 years now since I ran away from home after my mom died we sold our house in Colorado. [Read more…]

Our Next Adventure

So, I’ve drafted a few versions of this. One is the detailed version that doesn’t leave out any specifics, emotions, or thorough history. Another is the elevator answer. And then there’s this one for sake of time and sanity and also so I stop procrastinating from the inevitable of purging and packing once again:

The Graveswolds are moving to Nashville this weekend!

Short answer: We don’t really know. We just know an undeniable door has been opened to us and we feel God leading us down that way for this new season. We’ve only been there twice before, and those trips for me, at least, were in May and June of this year. Nashville had been on my heart for about 10 years but I didn’t really know why…so, I just prayed for friends I knew there and for God’s love to be poured out there.

Anyway, we’ve been praying about what our family values as it relates to time, love, life, serving, and experiences. We knew we didn’t want to spend our lives in the car commuting kids to and fro because: life is short. And we really wanted to be involved in their schools and with their friends and their families. Our desire for a smaller radius of life for school, community, and service, and convenience to an airport for Jason were key. And accessibility to creativity and team collaboration was one of my big needs.

While we were in Nashville checking out the city the first week of June, friends encouraged us to apply at a wonderful school, K-12, which was a big leap for Jason and me since financially it wasn’t feasible. (***SOOOO many details leaving out for sake of time…) Then, after spending the rest of the month in Denver with family, they called to tell us they had spots for both kids and offered generous scholarships. Jason and I have been a bit verklempt ever since…humbled they would make room for our kids, so excited and grateful for the awesome experience available to them, and us as a family. So, we took that as a door flung open and are walking on through. We’ll rent an Airbnb for a few months while we get them rolling in their school routine and Jason and I will search the area for the right space for us to put down a few roots. I’m really excited because I’ve decided to relocate my non-profit down there, as well, so am looking forward to get back to 1/2 or 3/4 time work this fall.

 

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That’s the short version and the only one I have time to share at this moment! We are so excited and hope our journey and yours will continue to overlap in the future! Many thanks for the love and prayers and cheers and support over the last couple years while we wandered a bit.

I suppose I’ll need to brush up on my accent and , “Y’all!”

 

I’m the New HGTV Star

Okay, before you read further, I jest. I’m not the new HGTV star, but I have recently put on a new hat, a hard hat at that, and have kind of naturally slid into the role of General Contractor on a remodel. Blue prints are in my DNA and I think I might have a new itch…

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“Knock out that wall. Knock out that wall. And knock out that farging wall…” – name that movie?! First one to list the name of the movie in the comments, I’ll ship you a tape measure key chain.

Let me share more details…

So, as some of you know, we “ran away from home” what is now almost a year and a half ago. And by “ran away” I mean, we, the “Graveswolds” as we sometimes ridiculously refer to ourselves, decided that because Jason worked from home, and “home” is wherever the 4 of us are, it would be an awesome idea to sell most of our belongings, house included, and spend a season in “flexibility.” This time has included stays in Colorado, California, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, France, Hawaii, Australia, an overnight in Nebraska where I got to hear and meet the raw-thentic Glennon Doyle Melton, and an upcoming trip for me (the #loneviajera) for the first time ever to Nashville, TN, for some serious girlfriend time and a hunormous Bevy brainstorm with our new CEO (details on that later…). This doesn’t include all the trips Jason’s taken on his own for work, but it’s at least given us the opportunity as a family to tag along once in a while and be together.

Anyway, part of our time in SD has been to reconnect with old friends, apparently make great new ones, and hang out with Jason’s mom, who has been a widow now for 18 years, as she retires. Prior to her leaving for what will be most of this semester to be with one of Jason’s sisters and her family in a time of need, she invited me to meet her for coffee at Caribou, aka, my office.

She has been wanting to update some things in her home for several years, to make it less maintenance for when we all gather in the summer and as she travels more, but she worked full-time and has been on the go quite a bit as bonus grandma of the century, so hasn’t had time to do it. Having known me for 25 years now, and knowing I’m the daughter of a builder and LOVE remodeling and design, she asked me at the coffee shop if I’d go ahead and remodel her house while she was out of town. She told me she trusted me and to go for it!

WHAT KIND OF AWESOME MOTHER-IN-LAW DOES THAT?! 

MINE!

(NAH, nah, NAH, NAH, nah!) (Just joking…)

So, I called a local contractor in January to see if he had some time to do a few minor structural things…because, I knock out and rearrange walls in my head all the time when I walk into spaces. It must be in my genetic makeup…Anyway, we emailed back and forth, crunched some numbers, and he lined up a few sub-contractors for some of the jobs, but I told him I also had a few subs I had learned about in town and would be contacting them for references and price comparisons.

Can I just tell you, I’m KIND OF having a blast!!!!

I now know a great tile guy, an incredible taper, sheetrocker, painter, hard working contractors and carpenters and gas-line guys. As the daughter of a builder, I watched and observed the process over the years. Our dad would take us to his job sites once in a while and it would be fascinating to see a home, resort, neighborhood, or commercial property go from ground break to foundation to plumbing to lumber and electrical to sheetrock to finishes, etc, etc. I loved my dad’s big pale green drafting board and the rolls of old blue prints stacked in the corner. My sisters and I grew up sketching floor plans and flipping through Architectural Digest and appreciating the beautiful design and construction of landmarks, rather than necessarily paying attention to where or what we were visiting.

I loved, then, watching my mom walk in and choose finishes and design elements, then see all of it come together. Decorating and staging was one of my mom’s favorite jobs, so seeing a place my dad had built eventually transform into a home, either for us or for sale, was simply part of my upbringing. As I look back at memories of my childhood I can trace my lifeline according to which house we lived in, in which city or state, and by the decor. Much of it traveled with us, like my mom’s blue and white china, my antique sleigh bed, and the old hutch that was my parents first piece of furniture. But one reason this season of travel and uprooting was an easy idea for me was that, no matter where we lived and which things made it to the next house or not, my family was always there.

Anyway, I’m waxing nostalgic and what I meant for this post was to share a bit of show and tell of the process of what I’ve been up to over the last 2 months. The job should wrap up in the next month, fingers crossed, but this is kind of why I haven’t been faithful to my other love, writing, as of recent…

(*Disclaimer: I have moved around 30x and have become quite efficient at purging and packing up rooms, and, as a result, didn’t take pictures BEFORE, before, where the house looked all pretty the way my MIL usually has it decorated. I had already packed up breakables and artwork from the wall, but you can get the gist of it…)

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My MIL LOVES the ocean/water/sunlight like no other woman I’ve ever known, so the vision behind the transformation you will see is to bring in as much light space as possible. Watch the walls and ceiling progress…

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Life at Nana’s has been fun for these two. Living on a lake? Yes, please!

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See the cold air return on that wall to the left. Well, that’s the place I thought it would be perfect to smash through and make the new entrance to the hallway/bathroom/bedroom area, rather than through the kitchen where it was previously.

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A little tough to tell because I had emptied the fridge already and the doors are open, but there is a doorway to the right of the fridge, as well as a short wall behind it. My vision was to eliminate the soffits in the kitchen to create ceiling height/space. Also, the fireplace had a wood burning insert in it that hadn’t been used for almost 20 years, so the vision was to convert it to gas and modernize the brick facade.

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Graveswold family dog pile heap of exhaustion and the night we moved down the lake to a friend’s cabin.

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One of my favorite things on a job site! Evidence of sweat and hard work!

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I asked my MIL what her dream was for her space. Her DREAM, dream kind of included a whole new roof. BUT, instead we created light and height and space by cutting in a second skylight, removing soffits and that small wall behind the fridge, and opening up the space between kitchen and great room. (Prouty Construction, South Dakota)

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Jason was savvy selling even the cabinets to someone else in town who was able to use them. New to you!

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You can see on the far left of the photo where we created a new hallway.

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Where you see the two new sheets of drywall is where there was once the back of a closet and a doorway to the hall. Also, yep, under the ladder which was where the former apartment sized dishwasher was, we replaced sub-flooring.

Be sure to tune in again…there’s more progress to see!

My Mid-Life Crisis, Part 2 of Many…

The title for this post may be a bit dramatic, but I am going to unpack “Mid-Life Crisis” in some posts to come, but this does dabble with some of the topics one may wrestle with when thinking of a mid-life crisis, so I felt it fit.

Last year I got to travel a bit, with family, with Jason, and all by myself. I. Love. To. Travel.

Exploring the world, people watching, meeting new people and learning their stories, taking in the smells and sights and feeling the feels is breath for my soul. It doesn’t have to be glamorous…I’m not talking 5-star lodging, though there is nothing wrong with that. I’m simply saying, my Spirit loves the soil of the barrio beneath my feet as much as it thrives off the sand on an uninhabited beach. In both places we find God’s divine beauty if we let our eyes see.

So, last fall I was able to tag along to Paris, the romantic city of love, where Jason had meetings, adding a few days on the front end to explore the countryside with my best friend and lover. We drove hundreds of miles, some mapped, others our own detours, tried new wines, ate baguettes and Cuban food, stayed in mom and pop Bed & Breakfasts, listened to new music, and, of course U2, and laughed out loud together at Jim Gaffigan’s comedic genius. The French countryside and our time in Paris was just right.

Well, in the spirit of French romanticism, and trying to keep it real, I wanted to change my profile picture on Facebook…first, why can’t we just change our profile pictures without it being posted to everyone’s walls that we did, in fact, change them? Anyway, see, Ryan wants me to grow my hair back out…maybe he wants to snuggle with it? I obliged even though I really, really, really like my hair less than one inch long. It’s this love, hate thing going on…trying to practice empathy with many incredible friends and women who have lost their hair to disease, feeling what it feels like to grow it in and feel awkward through the stages of growth. Let me tell ya…it sucks! I’ve had the luxury of cutting mine or shaving it again probably 5 or 6 times, but figured if I’m going to grow it out, I should probably stop cutting it. Whoa. It’s been about 7 months and if I dyed it blue, I’d look like your grandma.

Anyway, yada, yada. I changed my profile picture from when I was tan and it was summer and I was probably 5 or 10lbs skinnier and my hair was short and maintenance free, to this one where I have a bit of a frizz head, but the lighting was right and, whatever, it’s just a picture.

But I felt romantical in it. I felt kind of demure, French film-star, pale-skinned, pretty in it, so I thought, “Well, this is about as good as it gets in the hair department for now, so it is what it is and I feel pretty.” Post.

Those words to myself, “I feel pretty,” haven’t been common to me. (Read here for more of that story.) They aren’t first or even second nature. They are words I’ve had to convince myself of in the last 4 years since turning 40, not only on the outside but deep, deep within…in the last 4 years since God said to me, specifically, almost audibly, “Adrienne, I know you love Me. I know you love others. There’s another part to that scriptural command and it’s to love yourself…it’s time you started doing that…”

UGH. Um, what does that even look like?

If I were in so-called mid-life crisis mode, filtering these truths into me, separate from God’s truth over me, it might look like nips and tucks and replacement parts and endless dieting and die-hard, bad-ass working out, striving for something, other than, in spite of any of that, just looking in the mirror and loving myself simply because I exist. Simply because God made me. Simply because when He made US, He said, “It’s oh, so, good!”

So, let’s fast forward to a conversation, one had in light of me being in a healthier place in my head and heart and body than I have been in a while…Jason says, “I really think you are beautiful. That being said, I think you should change your profile picture. It doesn’t really look like you, it doesn’t capture who I see when I look at you.”

Me: You don’t like my profile picture?
Him: No. You know I think you are beautiful. I just don’t think it looks like you.
Me: I like it. I feel French and romantic in it. Plus, you know me, I’m so literal, it’s not how my hair looks right now so I felt it wasn’t current or accurate.
Him: Ok, that’s fine. I just don’t think it looks as beautiful as you are. But keep it.

Then I get a call from my dad. “Hey, Boo, there’s this weird picture of you I saw the other day. It doesn’t look like you. You look kind of distorted…”

Me: Oh, really? Am I wearing a green sweater?
Dad: I’m not sure, I’ll have to look at it again…you look kind of gaunt, almost anorexic.
Me: Dad, not eating enough food has never been my schtick…I’m a huge fan of food. Don’t worry, I’m not anorexic. And, PS, I like that picture…I feel pretty in it.
Dad: Well, I just think you’re so pretty and it doesn’t look like you.

So, then I tell Jason, who I’ve been lovingly dishing crap to over the course of the day, “Yeah, my dad hates that picture, too…”

Jason: I don’t hate it. You are beautiful. Keep it. I just have other favorite ones of you I love more.
Me: So, the 200+ friends who liked it on Facebook are obviously blind…

(* Snap! Knee to the face! Elbow to the face! (spoken in Nacho accent…))

Thing is, they are both kind of right, these men in my life. Not that it’s not a good picture, because I like it whether it’s “good” or not, whether others “like” it or not…I know how I felt taking it, and it’s just a picture that doesn’t define me. Just as no picture represents the whole of us. But, if a photographer were to take a shoot of me, in true Adrienne style, it’d be full of sass. It’d be snarky and smart ass and I’d be awkward with the camera and saying ridiculous things like cuss words or “sperm whale” just to laugh and not feel so very uncomfortable being seen, being vulnerable.

So, in my true smart ass way that I often function, I headed to the bathroom around 11:15 to get ready for bed. I fluffed out my hair a bit. And then I texted this to Jason, down the hall, with, “Oh yeah! Here’s a profile picture for you!”

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Funny thing is, I like these, too. I like them because my Noah skin discoloration on my cheek shows. I like them because how fun would it be to just fro out your hair and not care?! I like them because Jason and I got a good laugh out of them. I like them because I think we all take ourselves too freaking seriously.

But, my hair is growing more. And it’s sub-zero this winter and I can’t leave my hair wet to dry, so I’ve been blowing it out, but then it’s cuh-razy, so I pretty much just wear a hat anyway. And I’ve almost shaved it 12 times since last week, but I’m sucking it up and just going with the fro, which I can’t rock as awesome as some sisters, but whatever. It’s hair and isn’t what this is really about, I sure hope you’ve caught that?!

Anyway, so, then Ry and I hid behind the curtains where the snowy sunlight made for a decent filter and snapped off some new pictures. Some I like and some I don’t, but the crazy thing is, they are all me and all Ryan. Who we are in the pictures doesn’t change whether one picture captures us well, or not.

 

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He won’t admit it, but he’s lovin’ my smooches…

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I'm in love with this boy!

I’m in love with this boy!

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And, so, I’m encouraging you to give yourself a bit of grace, too. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then as we scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll, let’s remember there are stories behind every picture, and so much more than meets the eye.

My Mid-Life Crisis, Part 1 of Many

I’ve been wrestling a little lately, though it’s not unfamiliar. To say it was foreign would be false, because drifting, floating, uprootedness, wandering and wondering, going from place to place, and being curious about this and that isn’t new to me. I’ve moved 30 times in my 43 years and 11 months and 3 weeks. That’s included different cities, states, suburbs, churches, states, and dorms, apartments, and houses.

The last year since we sold our house and most of our stuff hasn’t been all I thought it would be, but also has been, on some levels. My dreams was to get rid of it all…I’m an extremist that way. I wanted the four of us to load up one carry-on each and walk out the front door of our previous lives, out into whatever and wherever God was leading. Jesus told the rich young man it would be difficult…I guess He was right...since my dad’s basement is filled with our boxes and some chairs and beds. Looking back, I wanted to run away from the reality of my mom’s absence…

The steps have only come one at a time. This is fine for my free-flow spirit, but it’s dark and discouraging and heavy for my HSP-ness, for my eyes that want to look ahead and plan for the future, to have a thumb on my “passion and pursuit” without all the unknowns. In a split second I can go from being grateful and content for where God has us, to being frustrated and distraught with zero answers to why are we “here” and “where” is next and, mostly, what the heck is my purpose, like, why did God make me?

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(A great chart and article about “Highly Sensitive People”-click here for link for a great quiz and insight into, likely, someone in your life.)

Problem is: I realize I am often waiting for my circumstance to dictate my action or obedience, when that was the point of most of the stuff Jesus said in the first place, simply, “Follow Me.”

Most days I’m selfish.

I haven’t been obedient.

I could blame not knowing HOW to do something I feel passionately about with not doing anything at all.

But I don’t want to make excuses anymore.

I’m just simply sorry.

I could write a list and check off a long page worth of excuses that carry truth in my own eyes, but the Truth is, I’ve been designed by God for this day and age, regardless of circumstance, in spite of influences and obstacles, and all He designed me to “do” is BE the woman He made me to BE, right here, wherever “here” is, right now, accountable to the one in the mirror and actively loving to the ones I encounter every day…living the Kingdom, sharing the Good News.

We just got back from a 2-week trip to Australia. The jet-lag bites and the postpartum from daylight and sunshine and warmth and sand and salty air and great food, coupled with hormones, has had me in tears off and on for a couple of weeks. Did I mention we came home to a snow storm?

Anyway, when I got back I had some messages to catch up on, a few of which included encouragement from friends to watch a 1/2 hour video clip from Elizabeth Gilbert titled, “Flight of the Hummingbird.” I sat in my office in Caribou bawling, tears streaming, muttering, “Holy cow! This. Is. Me…all of it…thank you, thank you, thank YOU, Lord…bless this woman for her faithfulness in speaking truth in the face of fear, for living without shackles, outside the box…bless Liz for throwing me this life-line, without all the cliches…bless her for doing what I know I’ve been designed to do…” I’m including the video at the bottom for you to come back to when you have a bit of time. It’s not something you’ll want to miss. Share it with friends, male and female, dad’s of daughters, brothers of sisters, too, who come to mind when you listen. Besides the fact that every word spoke to my heart; the Facebook letter from the Australian woman, Liz’s husband’s life of uprootedness, and the whole idea of a hummingbird, the specificity for me was mind-blowing.

Well, one of the squares on my check list of half-assedness living has been momless-ness. I miss my mom. I want my mom. I really could use MY mom in my life. I want to hear her wisdom spoken fresh again. I want to have her in my corner, praying over me. I want to hold her hand and watch her facial expressions, to hear her voice and prophetic heart. A great chasm has been left in me since her departure and there have been days of flailing, still.

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So when Liz referenced a hummingbird, I kind of freaked…my mom’s favorite bird in the world was a hummingbird (a close second being the sweet Gambel’s desert quail of the Southwest)…wherever we lived, she always had the feeder filled for the curious little beauties…and as long as she had food for them, they returned faithfully.

So, Lord, open my eyes to see…
I’ve been self-absorbed, worried about opinions,
wondering if I’m qualified…
questioning Your creativity,
asking, “How can I leave a legacy or step out boldly when I’m not rooted, not planted, not grown-up enough?”
I’ve looked into the mirror, but mostly at my thighs…
measuring my worth in a toxic, twisted way, rather than
greeting myself in the eyes, face to face, in the mirror, Your daughter, Beloved. Holy. Sacred.
I’ve been busy, so “busy,” I’ve allowed the concrete to set up,
and the fears begin to creep in,
and the lies, to bear rotten fruit.
It’s painful.
You don’t need my permission,
though my admission may be part of the unlocking, unleashing,
cage-opening, branch-trimming…
trim my branches, Father…
graft me into Your Tree of Life.
Open my cage, Lord…
free me from the lies I’ve believed, the un-truths I’ve told myself.
Lord, You put that man to sleep after a time in order to hand-craft woman…
that must mean You had something special in mind for Your daughters, as well…
all of us, me, and her, and every other girl, also made in Your likeness.
Illuminate the path, Lord, as You see fit, what You know is best, and and I will walk in it,
everlasting…here I am…I’m stepping out into the unknown…the place where I’m free to be me…a butterfly, a curious soul, like a hummingbird, led by Your Spirit, for Your glory, discovering Your beautiful creativity in the day to day.

Come.

 

hummingbird photo courtesy: pixabay user/omissivart

Life Interrupted

When I was in high school I used to keep a daily calendar…to be specific, I had a DayTimer. It was black leather with a zipper, totally official and tabbed and color-coded. And every single day over the course of a month, I wrote down and planned what outfit I would wear for the week, as to be careful never to repeat an ensemble twice in a two-week period, if not longer.

Clearly a first-world luxury.

I also used my DayTimer to plan ahead and keep track of class requirements, upcoming tests, my swim team meets and responsibilities as captain, my basketball games, youth group gatherings, and even a little red “dot” to mark important dates.

Though I’m an artist, go-with-the-flow kind of spirit, I thrive and flourish within boundaries and structure…

When I headed to college I replaced the calendar pages with a fresh new year and wrote in pencil everything each professor had given us in our syllabi, as well as all my social events and chaplain responsibilities and meetings, even first dates and break-ups. I lived and breathed and existed via the pages of my “organizer.”

After college when I had a career for 5 years, one in the field of college student development with a job description entailing a 24/7 work week, I kept my every move, hour by hour, scribed and color-coded, in my weekly and monthly schedule. If that thing ever got misplaced, I was lost…totally and completely lost. Thankfully, that never happened.

Then we moved across the country, while I was mega-pregnant, and bought a fixer-upper and knocked out walls and tore out the kitchen and Jason started at his new job 3 days later, so I sat covered in sawdust, eating chocolate chip cookies baked in a toaster oven, friendless, and started watching Soaps…

Eventually I snapped out of it, we met friends, I ditched Bo and Hope, my belly became a beautiful, little, priceless reality named Emily, and I started on the journey known as parenting…

a journey impossible to pencil into a calendar…a day to day sacred learning experience never intended to be minutely planned and scheduled into something as sterile as boundaries and structure and a DayTimer.

Parenting has been a rollercoaster ride with its twists and turns and loops…seasons of “closed for repairs” and “remodeling” and “expansion coming soon” and the fear of what’s on the other side of this upward climb and the letting go of trying to control it all.

Weirdest thing how the day I became a mom, my life no longer fit neatly into a neat, weekly-tabbed schedule…

I wear the same jeans every other day…because: COMFORT! A “red dot” is a sticker on clearance items at a store. I have “chaplain” meetings with my kids whether they are scheduled or not, and the only color-coding going on in my life has to do with laundry, on no specific day of the week.

Now, if every hour of my day and week were totally structured and written out in a planner or calendar, I’d rebel against it and feel suffocated, anyway.

But, with the kids spreading their wings little by little, I’m seeing a need to re-visit maybe a little bit of the structure I once knew and embraced. I know now better than to believe my life could be reduced to a rigid schedule, but I think part of me is longing to reign it in a teeny…maybe the creative, artistic side of me, as ironic as that sounds, is longing for a plan of action.

 

That Time I Got Botox In My Forehead Because I Thought My Thighs Were Fat…

…and other totally rational choices and decisions I have made.

Obviously.

Not too long after my mid-life crisis, ahem, I mean, after we had our “bonus” child at an “advanced age,” I turned 40. I’ve never feared aging or the number attached to it, but realized, too, I had spent a lot of precious time at war with myself. As a result, God and I had a few words. His were, “Adrienne, I love you. It’s time to start loving yourself.”

Thing is, as long as my memory served me, I hadn’t ever been my biggest fan. Never “good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, disciplined enough…never enough: whatever.” But, I figured since God made me and not the other way around, maybe there was something He wanted me to know deep down inside…like all the years I’d preached and ministered to other women about how much God loved them exactly as they were was something I was supposed to believe myself? 

Like, just being born and existing was enough…simply because God made me.

Part of learning to love myself was to spend time soaking in God’s truth over me, what He said about me, rather than all the lies I had believed about the worth and value of my soul as it related to the beauty industry.

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It’s shallow to admit, but authenticity is an aim and practice of mine, so, there you go…all of my teenage years I spent hours upon hours looking through TEEN and SEVENTEEN magazines, truly believing how I looked merited even more hours of my time and mental capacity.

Some lies die hard. 

During this time of exploring what it meant to love myself, I started a separate blog called, “Confessions of a 2nd Grade Closet Eater.” It helped me to compartmentalize my head and writings there, apart from blogging other stuff. Well, it was over on “Confessions” that I had a personal epiphany. God showed me the moment when I was a kid where my journey of self-loathing was birthed…and that, out of fear. You can read all about it here.

And fear still creeps…it’s all around us everyday. And lies swirl. They are ours for the taking…or not. We don’t have to believe.

I don’t have to believe! Most lies I don’t believe anymore. I don’t base my value and worth on whether I’m 5, 10, or whatever amount of pounds off my healthy, comfortable weight.

There’s miraculously more to me than whether my jeans fit nicely or not.
Plus, there’s yoga pants, holla!

But, I have days like just a few weeks ago when I bought 4 cute tables…you know, for the house we don’t even have because I wanted to purge and be free of stuff…but I couldn’t afford NOT to buy them. You know what I’m sayin’? But this, all because I was getting too far ahead of God’s plan and I wanted to know what will happen at the end of this “Graveswold” season…so I bought tables…duh. Wanna buy a table? 

And then there was that time a few years ago when a friend mentioned she had free botox and I was so busy looking down, inwardly, at my own thighs, rather than up and out and around me at this beautiful life, that I endured painful pricks in my forehead…because paralyzing the muscles in my forehead would obviously make my thighs stronger faster than actual lunges and deep squats…duh.

Or what about the time I bought Frye boots because my mom died? Or that thing on the end-cap in Target, because it was on sale…or when I “rewarded” myself with a sweet treat because, by golly, my jeans fit again? WTF?! Or that time I tried to fill my longing with any number of things other than just sitting with the pain, the fear, the unknown, and letting God and I wrestle with it a bit…knowing deep down, He’s my Source. 

I can try to rationalize why I’ve made some of the irrational choices I’ve made over the years. And I can beat myself up about them. Now I can even raise my eyebrows at some of my choices. (get it? get it?) Or, I can accept that some days are harder than others…every day requires intention and mindfulness…each and every day is new and a gift from God, and one more day to live out of loving myself.

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(photo: pixabay user, Ben_Kerckx)

(*This post is part of a 31 Day Writing Challenge I’ve taken on to exercise the art that I love. If you are just joining, you can catch up on this “31 Days” page. Also, just for fun, Dayspring is offering a $500 shopping spree to readers of those participating. THAT’S YOU!!! Starting October 15, running through the 31st, you can enter here each day for the giveaway…watch for the button, and good luck!)