Gathering my Thoughts on the Eve of Lent.


Outside my window:  It's snowing--a soft, sweet, sort of wimpy snow.


Listening to: kitchen sounds as my children fix themselves lunch..


Clothing myself in: Yoga pants and a Mason soccer sweatshirt. I've worn a variation of this almost every day since the beginning of January. And I've gone almost nowhere since the beginning of January:-)


Talking with my children about these books:  Christian is taking an intensive class on the Civil War. He's reached out for some help, so Stephen and Nick are jumping in to provide community. We're all talking about Uncle Tom's Cabin this week.

And, of course, we're stocking the book baskets with these perennial favorites for the Lent and Easter season.

In my own reading: I've just cracked open The Awakening of Miss Prim. Looking very forward to it. One thing on the my list of things I will cherish this Lent (CHERISH is the word for 2016) is reading from books chosen for me. I spend a whole lot of time reading with my kids, even my adult kids. I know I need to not neglect the dimension that is fed by personal reading. I'll keep you posted.

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups arrived today. I was so excited about this book when I pre-ordered it last fall. I think I may wait a bit on reading it now, though. For the first time in my adult life, there are no preschoolers. It's been a long time since I taught preschoolers in a classroom.  Mine own sweet preschoolers are grown well beyond that age. And after having our favorite baby and then toddler come hang out without us several days a week for a couple of years, we are soon to settle into the new normal of watching her become a preschooler via Skype. I don't really have the heart to read this book just now.

Mary Beth has a whole school of preschoolers keeping her busy these days. Perhaps I will borrow them in time;-). 


Thinking and thinking: Oh, about things too tender to share. 


Pondering: “The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”
--Anna Quindlen


Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: This has been an odd winter rhythm. It is punctuated by the gurgle of the vaporizer and broken by unexpected spasmodic coughing. It's been six weeks since the first diagnosis and antibiotic. I don't really want to settle into a rhythm of being intentional about these days because I still go to bed every night thinking the next day will be "all better" day. I believe in the sanctity of suffering and the holy ground of plans gone awry. I'm praying I understand what God desires from me in the time I spend recovering. One thing that I think about as I sit mostly silently (still laryngitis), is what God hopes I hear in this bubble made quiet by my silence. I had so many clear, well-defined goals for this year. This year has barely started and those plans have been mostly blown away. For several weeks, this unrelenting re-writing has rocked me. Now, though, I'm beginning to understand that building it all again from scratch when I have no strength for such a task, leaves God able to do what He will. I cannot think it an accident that Lent begins tomorrow and with it, Restore.  Two years ago, I wrote Restore--it is where I was (and still am) sure I heard God most clearly. Now, it sits waiting for me, ready to walk me through restoration and healing. I'd love it if you join me.


Creating By Hand:  Katie and I are giddy with excitement over beginning to share Scripture time with one another using these. She has literally been counting the days. Today was to be the day, but it looks like it's been delayed a week or so. All in God's time, right? That's the theme.


Learning lessons In: Mama guilt. I think midlife for women is marked by "What did I do?" or "What could I have done differently?" When we are open to life, to bringing these new people into the circle of our lives without reservation and pouring ourselves into them with reckless abandon, we think they'll know--always know--how precious they are and how much we want for us to always be US, across time and space and generations. We learn that they make their own decisions and their own mistakes. They choose different priorities and different paths. Again and again, I hear women saying, "Wait? This doesn't work? This intentional, life-giving mothering to which I've dedicated all my childbearing years?" They're surprised that grown children reject family values or seem not the least inclined to buy into the vision or even the faith of their parents. And women feel terribly guilty. They are sure it's something they did wrong. Not so, at least not to the degree we beat ourselves with it. When they start the conversation--begin to talk with other women--women with grown children learn they're not alone. Not at all. And they begin to understand that it's not their fault. Children grow up to be adults who make their own choices. There is peace in letting go of Mama Guilt. Mama Sorrow?  That's another story. Sorrow comes with the afternoon of mothering. It is what happens when you raise a child and live long enough to see her go wherever she chooses and do whatever she believes. So, yay for living long!

Encouraging learning in: Civil War studies. Here are my notes. We'll adapt.

Keeping house: The Jesse Tree is still up. It's coming down today, a final admission that I will not be well enough to read aloud all the stories I wanted to share. I left it up because we never finished before Christmas, so I thought I'd grant myself some grace and just finish up in January. Okay then, but I didn't have a voice at all in January. It's time to hide the Alleluia. We shall concede that the Jesse Tree didn't happen this year. Hide the Alleluia. Pack away the Jesse Tree. Move on to the next season. It's a theme:-)

Crafting in the kitchen: For tonight,we are all about Fat Tuesday. Waffles and sausage and whipped cream, oh my!

To be fit and happy: Hah! A sweet friend encouraged me at the beginning of the year with a membership at Run the Year. I haven't tracked a mile since January 7. However, that gift is a treasure. I still have every intention to run the year. It will happen. Let's see how God lets it be so.

Giving thanks: For a good weekend with my youngest boys. Patrick, Nick, Stephen, and I watched the Super Bowl together at my dad's. Then, Stephen and Nick and I went to Lynchburg on Monday. While the boys did a campus visit, Ginny and I had a lunch visit with Ann. I cannot overstate how grateful I am for my time with my boys and my time with two women who hear my heart even when my words are soft and strained.

Loving the moments: I will forever treasure Nicholas' enthusiasm yesterday afternoon. He was so excited about what the next few years could hold for him and it was such a happy thing to see hope shine in his eyes.

Living the Liturgy: Lent, my friends. We shall hide the Alleluia and talk together about what we hear God calling for us this year. My children know that sometimes, you don't really get to choose your Lent. Life brings with it suffering beyond the sacrifice of chocolate. And they know (even the littlest one) that this season will undoubtedly have some of that for them. So we talk today, about how to suffer well and how Jesus walks with us in every season, tenderly binding wounds and restoring souls. 

I intend to share the season with you in the most raw, honest way this medium allows. Please take a moment or two to read what I am offering and maybe to watch the video we made? 


Planning for the week ahead: Mike comes home today. He's been gone ten days! He has a date tomorrow morning to have breakfast with Sarah and Mary Beth at the Montessori school. I have very little on my calendar. I'm looking forward to getting to know some new friends as Restore begins tomorrow and I'm looking forward to slowly getting back into the groove of caring for my home and family. Only as He wills...

All photos are the kindness of Katie Foss