Collecting stories

After Deep Cries Out released, Zach asked me, "What are you going to do now? You spent eight months on that thing!" Initially I wanted to say, "I'm starting my next book!", but that didn't feel right. And then I thought maybe I'd go back to the blog life and start updating this space a little more regularly, but that didn't feel right either. 

A few months ago, I was listening to a chat with Lysa Terkeurst and she said something that's stuck with me. She said as writers, our input needs to be greater than our output. If all we do is write and write and write and write, there is no space for stories to happen. We should spend time collecting stories and space out our telling of those stories. I think that's true for everyone, regardless of whether or not you write for a living. We spend so much time telling other people what happened to us or around us the minute that it happens and I think it's wise advice to tuck those stories away instead. There is no rush to share your story. Sit on it, let it grow, move, and take on life of its own. 

So in the spirit of spacing out my writing and collecting more stories, I deleted a few social media apps off my phone and am trying to seriously reduce my social media intake and output. I'm resolving to read more and scroll less and let my stories be my stories. Ever since I was a little girl, I've had this compulsive need to document my life in intricate details. Journal entries, photo taking, keepsake collecting, I've been a hoarder of story mementos because I've been so afraid of forgetting. Now I want to try my hand at just being in my stories and not collecting their mementos. If that makes sense. It's a life experiment, if nothing less, and I think it will be good for me. 

ALSO... I feel like I've been in this constant wish washy stage of life where I can't decide what I want to do or who I want to be. I feel outside pressure to put my kids in school and day care and start my career and give up the stay at home mom and homeschooler life. Internally, I feel like I'm getting older and like what I want to do and who I want to be is getting muddy and I'm just not sure my choices are so clear anymore. There's this weird tug of war happening inside of me and the outside voices are drowning me out and the pressure is on and it's just getting to be a little too much. I can't breathe. I need to breathe. 

All that to say, every time I put my writing on hold, I feel like I have to explain myself. Kind of a, "It's not you, it's me!" sort of thing. I need to pause, collect my stories, be fully present and committed to my life, and figure out what the next step is for me. I know I just turned 29, but for real... the 30 life crisis is no joke. This stage of life is so weird, right?? 

ANYhoo. 

If you need some new reads, here are some that I've been digging lately and I think you will too. 

Many Sparrows - Kayla has two little boys, is expecting a new little baby in the Spring, and just adopted sweet little Eliza. The Craigs are just the coolest family ever and Eliza's adoption story is an incredible testimony of God's grace, provision, and fierce love. (Anxiously waiting for part 2, Kayla!!)

Coffee + Crumbs - This is 100% my favorite blog right now. So many beautiful, real life essays on motherhood. 

Jess Connolly - Always. The girl just gets me. 

One last thing ... 

Next month, I'll be periscoping (@kristenlavalley) through Deep Cries Out every Monday morning at 10am. I'd love for you to jump in and chat about the book and your thoughts on the devotions. If you haven't bought it yet, the link is here and you can purchase the PDF version here

That is all. Happy Saturday, my friends! 

Pause.

It's a new day.
I'm so sleepy that I'm not even sure if I'm awake yet. 
Did I really float down the Amazon River in a cardboard box and eat mangoes on the bank?
I can still hear the river lapping when I feel a pair of hands on my hip and a tiny, two year old sized butt sitting on my ankles. 
Nope. Not in the jungle.
I'm here. In my bed. In the middle of winter.
Two kids are climbing on me and the third is crying for me. 
I know that as soon as I open my eyes, I have to be responsible. 
I have to make breakfast and then clean up the kitchen.
I have to change two diapers and convince the oldest child to put on pants and then negotiate which ones and explain a hundred times why he can't run around the house naked every day.
I have to listen and respond to a hundred different versions of "Mommy! Mommy. Mommy?". 
Requests. Demands. Tattles. Messes. Crying. Whining. Fighting. 
When I open my eyes, I have to be Mom. 
Deep breath in... 

"Hi Mommy!"
"Mommy can you build my lego set?" 
"Mom! Watch this!" 
"I gotta go. Here's the baby. See you tonight." 

It is chaos from the moment I open my eyes until the moment I close them again. 
I feel like I can't get ahead of anything. 
I want to have a plan, activities, things to keep us busy, but it just never seems to happen. 
I wash the dishes and they pile up again. 
I put a load of laundry in and the pile I just folded mysteriously ends up on the floor in a crumpled mess. 
There is so much noise.
I'm tired, but they won't let me rest. 
I'm hungry, but every time I try to make myself breakfast, someone needs me. Something breaks. Someone took someone else's toy. The baby is hungry. The cycle continues. 
Finally, it's nap time. The older ones are resting and it's just me and the baby. 

Why won't she let me put her down? 
Just play with these toys! Bang the pots and pans! I don't care, I just want to sweep this floor! 
Here. Eat a cracker. I just want to wash the dishes. 
Go to sleep! Stop crying! You don't need me! 

But ... she does need me...doesn't she?  Don't they? I am the axis on which their world spins.  I guess I forgot. But she needs me, so I remember. In this moment, I am thankful for my fussy, clingy, whiny little girl. She requires that I stop. That I slow down. That I pause. 

Her eyes say all that I need to hear and so we pause. We sit. We talk. We play. I soak in these seconds and breathe them in deep. There is no because. There is no "I better do this now because I'll miss it in 20 years." There are no thoughts of the future, only of right now. I don't care if I remember this moment in 20, 30, 50 years. I just want to be in it and to know it and embrace it and not rush it away. For no other reason except I need it and she needs it and there are two little boys sleeping that need more pauses as well. 

So we pause. Today and tomorrow and the next and the next ... Until all I have left are pauses, but my reasons no longer fit on my lap.

Pause

Thanks so much for reading! If you like what you read, you'll probably enjoy my new book, Deep Cries Out! It's a devotional for moms in hard places and I'd love it if you took the
time to check it out. Thanks again! <3

Mothering When the World is Scary

Maybe it's because of what happened in Paris over the weekend. 

Or maybe it's because 200 children were executed one by one last week in Syria.

Or maybe it's because a friend recently told me how she lives in constant fear for her children simply because they are black.

Or maybe it's because I'm raising three children in a time where terrorism and fear are rampant, and yet somehow, it hasn't really touched us yet. 

On Saturday morning, I woke up and I watched my children play. I thought of the parents in Syria who woke up that morning with empty arms. I thought of the parents across the globe whose adult children were slaughtered in Paris at a rock concert or while they ate a late dinner. I begged God to never ask that of me. 

Tragedy makes us reflect on our own circumstances and I know that I'm privileged to be able to reflect and not fear. Simply because of where I was born and the color of my skin, I don't have to live in constant fear. I know mass murders have and will continue to happen on American soil, but the truth is that those numbers are minuscule in comparison to what is happening around the world. The kind of shootings that happen in our country happen every day elsewhere. We forget that sometimes in our comfortable American lives. 

My children have a double portion of privilege because they're American and they're white and it worries me. It worries me because I can already see a sense of entitlement growing inside them and I hate it. They are blissfully unaware of what's happening in the world (as they should be) and sometimes it's hard for me to hold back my frustration when they grab a snack without asking or say things like, "Give me!" or "I want it!". I know they're just kids and that's what kids do and how would they know anything else? They have no idea what hunger is. They have no idea what fear is or what pain is. They are so fortunate. So, so fortunate. 

Zach and I are in constant conversation about how to raise children that don't take from the world, but give back. We want our kids to be aware of how good they have it, so that they never take it for granted. We want to raise compassionate and caring children that are aware of the world around them. We don't want them to ever feel superior, entitled to anything, or that they can use their skin color or nationality to climb above someone else. We don't want them to think they can save the world because they're American, or because they're white, or to ever think, "Oh look at the poor little brown children in other countries! Let's go save them!". We want them to love without condition every person that they meet. We want them to be kind to the poor and the rich, the white and the brown, the privileged and the under privileged. We want them to be aware of their advantage and to be humbled by it, not proud of it. We don't want them to ever feel like the world owes them anything. We want them to work for what they want and to be thankful for every morsel of bread. We want them to be confident in who they are and to be thankful for what they have. Most of all, though, we just want them to be aware.

So for now, I hold back my speeches on poverty and racism and terror, and I focus on things they can understand right now. But no matter what we do, it doesn't seem like enough. With everything in me, I want to protect them and shield them from the horror that's happening around the world, but at the same time, I want them to know, to some degree, how good they have it. I'm not sure we'll ever get it completely right, but I like to think we're off to a good start.

We want our kids to have a carefree, happy childhood, but we don't want to be so relaxed in our raising of them that we have a couple of entitled middle schoolers in a few years. We don't expect them to understand these difficult, complex concepts right now, but we're hoping to build character, compassion, integrity, and generosity into the fabric of who they are as people.

The world is a scary place and one day my kids will fully understand that, but for now they don't and I think that's best. I hope that their childhood is never stolen from them and that they have many more blissfully unaware years. They are so fortunate to have the freedom of ignorance and I hope that one day when they're aware of the world, they'll be thankful for the few years when all they knew was abundance and safety and love.

In the meantime, I'm going to be fully aware and fully thankful that I am able to mother without fear. I will think and pray often for the mothers who live in constant fear for their children's safety, whether they're across the sea or across the street from me. And I will never take my good fortune for granted. 

I Want To Make Pies

I want to be the kind of mom that makes pies. I've never made a pie in my life (unless mud pies count?), so I know this is quite the optimistic endeavor, but there you have it. I want to make pies. I'm aware that I'm probably romanticizing the idea of being a woman who carefully and lovingly places each slice of fruit inside the perfectly flattened homemade pie crust and expertly creates a basket weave crust around the  ... pie pan? Is that a thing? Clearly I'm on the path to success here. 

Somehow I've convinced myself that if I can make a habit of making pies, I'll be one step closer to being the kind of homemaker I want to be. Teenage Kristen would be so embarrassed at almost 29 year old Kristen because being a stay at home mom/wife/homemaker is just so archaic. But things change! I want to make pies! (How many times will I say 'pie' in this post?) 

not my pie! click the photo to jump to the recipe &nbsp;by pretty plain janes

not my pie! click the photo to jump to the recipe  by pretty plain janes

Homemaking is not something that I ever aspired to do or be, but now I'm growing up and realizing the value in having a home that is cared for. As Zach is the full time bread winner in our family, the bulk of the housework falls on me. I resented it at first and I still have my days where I want to scream "I am more than this!", but I'm learning to embrace the Suzy Homemaker life. I'm actually finding joy in making where we live a place that my family wants to come home to. 

So all that to say, I want to make pies. Pies of all kinds! Apple, cranberry, rhubarb, chicken pot!  Because pies make a house feel like home. Because I want to see the look on Zach's face when he comes home from a long day of work and sees a warm apple pie on the kitchen counter. Because I want to bake with my kids and get flour all over the place and I will laugh joyfully and the mess won't bother me a bit because women who make pies don't mind a little flour on the floor. 

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm jumping head first and fully embracing my homemaker role and it starts with pies. But don't worry, this isn't me telling you that this is now going to be a baking blog. No way would I ever subject you to that. I burn biscuits on the regular, so don't trust my baking advice. Ever. Or maybe wait a year from now when I've baked a few (ok last time, I promise) pies!

|| Just go ahead and leave your favorite recipes in the comments, please and thank you! ||