It’s like coloring with your left hand

This morning Andi invited me to color with her while I fed Oakley. He was eating on the right so I was left to color with my left hand. I was surprised how difficult it was but thought, “It’s hard, but this is good for me.” I slowed long enough in my head to focus on the moment- the result would not be perfect, red colored pencil lines in jagged circles and incomplete around the edges- but the effort would be appreciated and the activity with Andi uninterrupted. I was reminded of the goodness of sitting in uncomfortable, routine-disrupting, expertise-ignoring, and awkward places from time to time.

The lyrics from The Fray’s song “All at Once” have long-been my favorites.  A line from the refrain goes: “And all at once the crowd begins to sing, sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same

That the hardest thing can be the right thing, or even the best thing, is a concept I’d like my kids to live out, my own lifestyle to exhibit, and something I’m thinking about lots today.

Here are some hard things that I know are good for me…and some other things that are just plain good:

1. “Do your ornaments hang low?”- Thanks to a reminder and nudge from my sister Laura, Drew and I enacted “Christmas surprise” this past week. We got out all the Christmas decorations after the kids had gone to bed, put Sufjan Christmas music on low, poured two glasses of wine and put up the big stuff. We assembled the tree, hung garland, ribbon, and lights on the railing, and set out the up-high, breakable stuff.

When Eli and Andi woke up, there were lights glittering and touches of Christmas all around. The wonder in their eyes and the smiles that slowly took over shock were great! They got to enter into the decorating process that evening when we got out our stuffed singing animals, hung stockings, and did the ornaments. (This time there was a Veggie Tales Christmas album on and water being served.)

Here’s where the lesson came in for me: they were a little rougher with the ornaments than I would have liked- excited hands make for quick and harsh sorting. Mostly, they were great at hanging up the ornaments and it was fun to once again share stories of what makes each one special or unique. They took great pride in the ones they made themselves or that had their pictures inside. They clustered ornaments by favorites, ones that were theirs, and by where they could reach. The result was a tree with major ornament-less voids and lots of low hanging ornaments. I had to resist the temptation to completely move all their hard work to more eye-pleasing locations around the whole of the tree! Low hanging ornaments

In the end, I’ve moved some but this picture shows I’ve stayed away from controlling the whole experience. I love that Andi sits by it every day and touches her favorites- rehanging them, showing them to someone who’s come over, and even hugging them some days. Eli takes guests to the downstairs tree where his personal collection hands proudly off kilter to the left side of the lower part of the tree. It’s hard for me to not have it looking the best, but its the best that it holds the wonder of my kids and tells any onlookers that we worked together on it as a family.

2. Ring-a-ling and Whistles– the Salvation Army kettle guy outside my HyVee is dedicated. He’s there every time I am which is pretty much any weekday between 8 and 5. He whistles while he rings his bell and greets each passerby warmly. He is the same guy from former years and serves with compassion and conviction. This week and last has thrown Drew and me for a financial loop- we got a huge hospital bill and feel scared and shocked. On the day I was carrying the worry the heaviest, I entered Hyvee with a tear-stained face. When I left, I stopped at the kettle and put in some change. I felt like it was the hard thing but the right thing: to give to others when I was feeling poor and needy myself. I in no way mean to assert that I am poor or in dire need, but the practice of giving and tithing this week has reinforced the truth that we are dependent on a generous God to meet our needs. We are stewards of the gifts God gives and must live to let go of some financial control to show our trust and reliance on the One who owns it all.

3. A No-phone zone. I’m breastfeeding Oakley about 8 times a day/night. He’s great at it and its a gift of a process we both enjoy. However, it’s also a bit of work and time consuming. Since he has a great sucking ability, I’m able to muli-task at times- see beginning of post about coloring during a feeding! However, I also know sometimes its hard, but best, to do NOTHING but feed him, gaze at him, pray for him, and talk to him. I have composed many e-mails for work, texts to friends, watched TV, and read the Bible and books while nursing,  but do try to spend half of the feedings just feeding. Enjoying the quiet, the simple, and the slow of the miracle of meeting his needs in a way that only I can. I shall not forgo paying attention to something so precious.

And now for the just good things…I’m so grateful for these goodies:

1. Preparing for Advent– Love attending Jacob’s Well all year but especially in Advent. The focus on the antitipcation of God’s kingdom rule, the peace that comes through Christ’s presence and the radical reordering of Christmas priorities makes JW a great place to be this time of year. Drew and I have enjoyed celebrating Advent together our whole marriage and especially now that we have kids. I am excited to start our nightly readings and candle lighting tonight!Changing table happiness

2. Oakley is SMILING! He started smiling around 5 weeks (he’s 7 and a 1/2 weeks old now) and gives them out graciously to those willing to coo, smile and speak baby-ese to him. It is a wonderful experience to behold.Oakley smiling at Daddy

3. Born in October means lots of long pants for our lil baby. We hardly see his legs or feet under pants and one-piece zip up outfits. Today it’s 67 degrees so we’re letting the legs loose.  It’s soo good to see his legs getting some chubbiness on them and to become reacquainted with his sweet long toes!


Little bare legs chubbing up!Here’s to being open to the challenge of the uncomfortable and the call of the inconvenient that we might grow and change and be grateful.

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