5 Good Things

February 18, 2014 — 8 Comments

Good morning, lovely people.

It is Tuesday, the temperature in Nashville is *supposed* to break 60 today, and Raechel and I spent hours last night scheming new ways to make She Reads Truth awesome. It’s a good day.

To celebrate, I present to you Five Things That Are Making Amanda Happy. Enjoy.

love 2.18.14

 

#1: As Sure As The Sun

I’ve been listening to Ellie Holcomb’s new record in the swagger wagon nonstop for a week, and I’m in love. Yesterday, while my three loud children were especially loud on our new FORTY MINUTE COMMUTE to school, I swear Ellie’s sweet voice and the words of these true songs – and a bit of deep breathing – saved my sanity and their lives.
The album released today. Get it.

#2: Antler Necklace from buraellen

I need more long necklaces and more antlers in my life. Voila! My new favorite. This adorable little Etsy shop, run by my internet friend Amy, also has some light and pretty infinity scarves perfect for spring. Use code SPRING now through Thursday for 20% off (making the antler necklace less than $15 including shipping!)

#3: You Are Special by Max Lucado

I rediscovered this storybook while living with my mom these last few weeks, and it’s just so good. The kids love it, and the  message is one I can’t hear enough. “The dots only stick if you let them.” (hashtag praise hands)
Buy it and you’ll see what I mean.

#4: David Kind eyewear

First of all, is Raechel not the cutest? Those are her David Kind specs we’re wearing, and I WANT. Like, real bad. David Kind operates a bit like Warby Parker in that they send you glasses to try on free before you order. The difference is that at David Kind, a stylist chooses frames for you, based on your facial features and personal style. Since I’ve worn my WP glasses a total of 10 times ever, I’m looking forward to potentially paying a bit more for a pair I’ll actually love and wear. My first try-on box comes soon. I’ll keep you posted (you’re welcome).
Go here to have David Kind style you for free, too.

#5: God’s love does not grow weary.

This quote is from our current study of 1, 2 & 3 John over at She Reads Truth. Just yes. Yes, yes, yes, and Amen.

Have a good Tuesday, friends.

loved showed up

February 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

IMG_9587

 

“We’re coming up. We leave tomorrow.”

I tried to object but ended up crying and didn’t bother trying again. The truth was I was relieved. So. Very. Relieved. The truth was I needed exactly what they were offering. Not a task to be done, not a meal in the crockpot, not another sincere I’m Sorry. I needed all of it at once. I needed them.

They were two of my very best life-friends and they still lived in the town where we went to college. They would leave their families the next morning to drive six hours north on a day’s notice to do nothing other than carry my burdens. They were coming there to be me… 

:    :    :    :    :

I’m over at Leanne Penny’s place today, participating in her series “Love Showed Up” and sharing the story of the irreplaceable, invaluable gift two of my best friends gave in the days after my dad died. Click here to read the rest.

And be sure to snoop around a bit while you’re there. Leanne is one of my favorite internet people and – thanks to a late night wine and cheese date when her family recently stopped through Nashville – I’m honored to now call her my real-life friend. She’s a good one. You’ll see.

home from school

packing

city snow

home

There is a part of me that desperately wants to stay in the city. I’ll miss the closeness of the old homes, walking the kids back from school, seeing neighbors at the grocery store and the post office and the playground and everywhere in-between. I’ll miss the ease of community, how it happens just because we’re all right there together and life overlaps in ways we don’t plan.

There is a part of me that desperately wants to stay in the city.

But I have to admit, there’s a larger part of me that wants to be the family that stays in the city. I want us to love that life, to thrive there and raise our children to be city dwellers, ones who encounter all manner of people in the course of an everyday and are better for it. I want chain restaurants and franchised coffeeshops to remain unfamiliar to their urban sensibilities. I want them to never hesitate to say hi to Rita as she walks past our house several times a day, always think nothing of offering her a coat in the winter or a glass of ice water in the summer. I want to watch them stand on the fence and wave at Mr. Charlie as he walks to and from the bus stop, to insist on pausing our afternoon walk to pet Hero the dog through the chainlink two doors down, to ask for a blueberry muffin from Dan and Ellen at the bakery every Saturday until kingdom come.

I want those things for me and for them because I love it here. I love it all.

country kids

But then we visit my mom. We drive the long road past the horse barns and cattle, past the lake, past the sailboats in the harbor, and we arrive at a house that feels like home. There’s a fire in the fireplace and chili on the stove and the kids’ bikes are parked in the garage because they have room to ride them here. The children run to examine the Christmas tree, followed by an inspection with six little hands of the ceramic nativity scene I’ve known since childhood. These things happen in the span of two minutes, and immediately our moods lift. The stress my husband and I share in this beautiful life – the stress that at times is almost palpable and was evident even in our conversation on the drive over – it is eased just by being here.

Maybe it’s the presence of family and the memories of childhood and of my dad who’s gone to be with Jesus. Maybe it’s the large yard that backs up to the woods and offers room to for our children and our spirits to run. Maybe it’s the water and the way the sunset lights up the trees.

All I know is life makes more sense here. We make more sense here.

I am terrified of leaving the life we’ve made, the home and the people we know. But I can’t say no to the pull I feel – the pull we feel – to leave it for something better. Not better for everyone, not better for the us of eight years ago, but better for us today. Better for us tomorrow.

We’ve been given such a good life. May we never refuse to leave it because we don’t believe there could be something better, there could be something good that’s next.

I think it is our time. I can feel it in my gut.

Here goes nothing… and everything.

moving from the city

On December 17, I sat down in the living room of my mother’s house and typed these words on my phone. A few days later we made an offer on an old, white farmhouse outside the city, near her home. In the weeks since, we’ve packed up and moved out of our home of 8 years, and it sold days ago. Nothing and everything, indeed. 

We are grateful. We are exhausted. We are excited about the adventure to come. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes; keep ‘em coming. xo

We Are The Worst Church Goers

Perhaps you can relate.

Perhaps you have a kid or four and getting your brood to a worship service on Sunday is not unlike completing a marathon. You’ve trained for this; you have what it takes; you’re not a rookie but still – it’s just. so. hard. What is so difficult about getting three kids dressed and out the door to church? And what is it about the difficulty that then makes us feel guilty to boot? It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you, and I was in the thick of it.

At first I thought it was just us. So many families were better at this; so many showed up on time, every time, no matter what. That’s how it seemed, at least. And then there was us, stressed and distracted and worried, not really present even when we were. There was me, frantically packing dinner in a lunchbox for the girl and pacifiers and snacks for the boys, knowing soon we’d be rushing back home, carrying too-tired little ones into the house and straight to bed.

It was exhausting, and so we just stopped going.

It wasn’t an intentional decision, but a week missed here and there turned into a month missed here and there, and before long we were absent far more often than not.

It took over a year, maybe even two, for me to admit it was time. My husband knew long before I did, but he was patient. He knew it was hard for me to admit defeat, to admit we couldn’t go to our beloved church any more because we just weren’t. We  weren’t going.

It turns out, a theoretical church family is no good, only flesh and blood practice works out its design.

You can read the rest of my story, The Worst Church Goers, over at Deeper Story today.

Happy Monday to you, my friends. See you later this week.

3 Things

January 6, 2014 — 1 Comment

Coming to you live from the Land of Boxes and 7-Degree Misery… A few things for your Monday.

1. A Fresh Start begins today!

AFreshStart

As I said to the internet yesterday – with fresh starts are happening all around me, I’m ready to put them in perspective. I’m so excited to begin A Fresh Start, our new devotional reading plan at She Reads Truth.

We’re doing things a little differently this time, publishing the plan only on the site and not on the YouVersion mobile app. Details are explained in the introductory post, but the short of it is this: We are excited for us to all gather together in one place and explore God’s truth for this bright and shiny new year.

Will you join us? You can subscribe here.

2. 7 Tips for Parenting Newborn Twins

7tips for parenting newborn twins

I’m happy to be over at the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital blog, Wishing Well, sharing 7 Tips for Parenting Newborn Twins. Now, I know what you may be thinking. Parenting tips? From this crazy lady? I know. Just go with it, okay? Hindsight is 20/20, or at least waaaay clearer than whatever nearsightedness I have going on at the present.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the wonder and insanity of having two babies at one time, send them over for a few words of encouragement and practical advice.

3. It’s official: We are moving.

we are moving

I’ve been absent from all things internet because we have been packing boxes and PODs like mad, and we spent out last night in our home of 8 years last night. It is sad and it is sweet, and we are excited for the next chapter.

More on the why of all this and my conflicting emotions later because, come on. You know I am having All The Feelings and I have to write about them or I’ll explode.

On that note – See you back here soon. Go sign up for A Fresh Start!

A Weary World Rejoices

December 25, 2013 — 1 Comment

MerryChristmasYall

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

{from “O Holy Night” by Placide Cappeau}

*   *   *   *

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

{from “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow}

*   *   *   *

Merry Christmas, dear friends.
I am rejoicing in our everlasting hope today
and giving thanks for the way you so faithfully point me to it.

Fondly,
Amanda

Friday Fodder: advent edition

December 13, 2013 — 1 Comment

Christmas Cheer

I do believe I’ll require a viewing of the movie Elf this weekend, for sanity’s sake.

The date scene and the dancing in the mailroom and that part where he tackles Santa? ”You sit on a throne of LIES.” Oh my. Pure happiness.

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Naptime Diaries advent calendar

Speaking of happiness, my Naptime Diaries advent calendar is making me an abnormal amount of happy this year.

I’ll be honest – we kind of stink at advent this year. Last year I had cute little bags for the kids to open each day with a Truth in the Tinsel ornament to decorate and the occasional piece of candy. We didn’t always color said ornaments, but the option presented itself. This year? The advent calendar appeared on Day 10 and the little doors of the cute advent calendar house are still empty and the only crafting we’ve managed has been of the spontaneous “Here, paint this paper” nature.

As my sole defense, I refer you to yesterday’s post and this wonderful article by Lora Lynn at Vita Familiae: To the Mamas of Littles During the Holidays.

If baking cookies and watching your kids sling sprinkles all over the kitchen is going to make you yell today? Then no. Don’t do it. Always choose the relationship with your kids over the Advent activity that makes you scream. Always choose the Simple over the Pinnable.

Listen, the only person who expects you to accomplish All The Things on that list? Is you.

Moms, Dads, People Who Know Children: Read it. Feel free to jump up and shout amen.

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13

Speaking of advent, it’s not too late to start the SheReadsTruth advent devotional plan if you haven’t already.

This year’s plan, titled Emmanuel, was a true labor of love by my lovely co-writers Raechel Myers, Diana Stone, Hayley Morgan and me. Don’t do anything crazy like insist that you start from the very beginning (I’m looking at you, fellow procrastinators/perfectionists), just dive in today. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s today’s study. Start here.

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this chaos 1

Speaking of today, I’m sharing the story of last year’s Christmas tree decorating fiasco at Deeper Story today.

Remember, the time I was being a scrooge and my 5 year old put me in my place by being Christmasy and sweet and awesome? That’s the one. You can read it here.

That story last year prompted my free printable debut. I believe you’ll all agree it was quite the impressive effort [insert that emoji guy with the big eyes and raised eyebrows here].

If you’d like to print out a copy to put by your desk or your kitchen sink or have it tattooed on your forearm, you can download the printable with the links below.

This Chaos is My Peace 8×10 - download
This Chaos is My Peace 5×7 - download

ChaosNot personally a herder of small children? Print a copy for a friend, or write a quick note on the back of the 5×7 and stick it in the mail to encourage a mama in your life. They will thank you. They might cry a little, but it will be a good cry. I think. I hope. You know, forget I said anything about the crying.

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Have a good Friday, friends. The weekend is coming for us.
*praise hands*

Our Christmas cards arrived on a Thursday. 120 of them because I’m a people pleaser. This is the same reason I cried actual tears when we had to whittle our wedding guest list down to that same number. Saying no is hard for me, you guys.

Back to the cards. As usual, there was no family photo. In four years as a family of five we’ve not managed such a feat. So the card would feature a collage of instagrams, naturally, because taking a quick photo with my phone? That I can handle. It’s the scheduling a photo shoot in advance, setting aside money to pay for it, making sure everyone bathes within the 48-hour window preceding the photo shoot, and having everyone’s non-holey jeans and best long-sleeve shirts clean on the appointed day that I can’t seem to make happen. I’m sure you understand.

So the cards arrived, and I was pretty proud to find the box on the front porch that day. It was only December 5, after all, AND the cards were 60% off AND this gave me plenty of time to procrastinate and still get them out by Christmas week. Success all around.

I opened them and they were lovely, in our charming, no-bath-no-family-photo kind of way.

And then I laughed so hard I nearly cried.

Image

Yep.

Merry Christmas from the Connors, everyone! And also from us… THE WILLIAMS FAMILY.

I cannot even tell you how this little card exemplifies the month we’ve had. I’ve been sick then well then sick then well then sick again. The kids were sick somewhere in there, too, but the Hub managed to keep his ironclad immune system operating properly which is always a relief slash super annoying. There was a solo parenting venture in there, too – just four days, but that’ll do – and did I mention our pets have issues? Poor Coltrane, the 90lb lab, had his tail amputated 2 days before the card incident, and we learned that Dakota, the 70lb lab, has heartworms. Heartworms, people. Oh, and also a double ear infection, a urinary tract infection and a severe allergic reaction that makes her skin flake off like WHOA.

I should probably have spared you the unfortunate details, but you need to understand it is like a scene from Dumb and Dumber up in here. “Our pets’ HEADS ARE FALLIN’ OFF!” Except not heads but tails.

Moving on.

The cards arrived and I laughed. And laughed. And instagrammed it and laughed some more. I called the Snapfish guy and he laughed with me, and then he arranged for me to get a refund because in actuality he was an angel disguised as a customer service rep and he could tell I meant well. Really, I did.

And after we hung up, that’s when I realized – This card is perfect. If our life could be summed up in a card? This would be it. “Merry Christmas from the Connors! Our life is crazy and loud and never ever together! Love us anyway!”

Also? I knew these weren’t just cards. They were manna from heaven. They were a reminder from the universe’s most creative comic. If you’d just spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment at the vet and someone offered you a free $80, would you take it? I hope so.

And that is why 90% of our Christmas cards will be mailed out like this:

Image 1

And a Happy New Year!

Confession: I did order 20 corrected cards for those special people in our lives who might find the other A) confusing or B) unfunny. Just know that if you receive a card from the Connors this Christmas, we’ll probably be friends forever.

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What crazy/funny/typical things have brought you back down to earth this holiday season? Please tell me your stories. Make me feel normal, you guys. xo

Oh! And here. Enjoy.

Having shared one hilariously true video last week, I think it’s only fair that I share this one today.

I saw it for the first time a moment ago, Brother L standing behind me in the chair where I’m sitting, his arms wrapped around my neck. I watched this two-minute video of mamas doing the million little things that mamas do, while he rubbed my hair into knots and pulled it over and around my head and said, “There, mama. I fixed yo hayuh.”

Then he gave me a kiss on the cheek for the promise of more apple juice in his car cup with the broken straw.

Everything in last week’s video is true. But this is still the world’s best job.

Happy Friday, friends.

Notes From the Battlefield

November 13, 2013 — 13 Comments

My friend McKenzie posted this video on Facebook this morning and it was like manna for my tired soul. I want to cry, it is so hilarious and true.

Maybe you’ve all seen it, but I’m sharing anyway. Enjoy.

This week is kicking my tail, you guys. I have a cold that keeps getting worse instead of better. I’m covered over in writing deadlines (that I’m slowing crawling out of, thank you, Lord). It was TWENTY-SEVEN degrees when I woke up this morning (Nashville, you are hurting my feelings). And today is the first of four Papa-less days in this house.

I know many of you do the single parent thing often (or all the time), and I maintain that you deserve your own comic book series. Superhumans, that’s what you are.

In keeping with the theme of the above video, you should know it took me about 12 minutes, 5 pauses, 8 animal crackers and 3 fig newtons to successfully watch the whole thing. I would make one child happy with snack bribes or answers to questions like “What is the superdog’s name?” (?? no clue), set something on the counter, and turn around to find Boy #2 standing where Boy #1 was. They are like miniature Houdinis with their appearing and disappearing.

Come to think of it, the cold meds are probably not helping my reaction time.

In completely unrelated news: We are in the middle of a short 5-day plan over at SheReadsTruth this week. It is a compilation of five of our favorite days from past plans and it is called – wait for it – Five Favorites. Next week we start a brand new plan on giving thanks in all circumstances.

Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving? Whoosh, there goes the year.

So, how’s your week going?