Newspaper, Coffee, Connection

My name is Sheri and I am a hoarder.

The newspaper, the Wall Street Journal to be specific, is the thing I accumulate, stock, collect and store (my husband might say shoes, but he’ll agree to the paper as well). In another galaxy, far, far away, I had to read the Wall Street to begin my work day at the brokerage firm where I processed tenders and mergers. That was when I discovered the Wall Street had a lot of personality. Thirty years later, in the very early morning, someone still delivers it to my my porch. I’m certain I receive the digital version as well, but I’ve never once looked at it. Feeling the paper in my hands, cutting articles with scissors in place of forwarding a link, is a thing that on some level satisfies my soul. Upon receiving an article my kids have said, ‘You know there’s probably a link to this article.’ I’m sure there is and I don’t care. Sitting on the porch, with a cup of coffee, reading the paper is one of my favorite things.

To be clear, I don’t read every article, I’m not all up on Manafort, or why Canada and the U.S. missed a Nafta deadline last Friday, or Amazon’s plans to take over the world. But I now ponder questions to ask our financial adviser about retirement.  Among so many other things, I’ve learned about on-line tools that can help with depression, that many most harassed women stay silent, that Twitter can be mob like (shocking), the hospital of the future will look different, and that Lego is restructuring due to weaker sales and a lower profits. (Legos are the awesome, let’s all go buy some!)

When I go on vacation and friends stay here with our dog, I’m happy to share my paper with them, but also I offer a place to collect the papers so I can go through them upon return. This explains the Target bag full of newspapers. Like an episode on A&E I hear myself saying things like, “No, don’t recycle those yet, I’m going to read them.” and “What if there’s a good article in that pile?” I’m known to cut articles out and leave them around the house for our kids to read when they venture home. Ideally if everyone would initial the article after they’ve read  it and then discuss it at dinner I’d be so happy! With everyone out of the nest this doesn’t happen often, so I clip, address, find stamps and leave envelopes for the postman to pick up.

Here’s the thing, reading the newspaper slows me down, it causes me to sit, savor coffee and read at my leisure. I don’t feel rushed to read the article in a feed or save it as a link and then forget about it, I read it when I want. (How many recipes, links and articles have a saved on Facebook? 34. That’s not counting the links I’ve emailed to myself to read or reference later; which I might be hard pressed to retrieve because I don’t label them.) Reading the paper this way feels old school in this new world. I appreciate the exposure to other’s thought out opinions, the learning to be had, reviews read, and insights gained.

My quirky newspaper habits just might also be about connection; about letting my family and friends know, ‘Hey I thought of you today. I read this and I thought of YOU. I am aware of your interests, personality, life and I want you to know I think about you when you are out of my sight.’ Another category is  ‘I found this interesting and since you don’t live here anymore I can’t read it out loud to you.’ (Always a favorite – one time I read an entire Wikipedia article about Parishs to Courtney as we drove into New Orleans at 1 am. She about died.)

This week I got caught up on a whole big stack of papers, so some of you might want to watch your mail.

I’d LOVE to here from you ~ what do you collect, store, hoard? I’d love to hear why!
Also, what do you do to slow down?

Let’s Talk

Writing has eluded me for so long. Too long. Writing is a processing, sorting out, gather my thoughts kind of tool. For months upon months words form in my mind & I determine to put them down, then I sort though email, clean off my desk, do the dishes, walk the dog, read a book, clean out my spam file ~ you know, get ready to write…and then I don’t.

The possible reasons are many~

  • there are so many voices out “there”
  • who cares?
  • the “kids” are all moved out and the title of the blog seems wrong in this season
  • I shouldn’t write until I find a new title (or go back to an old one)
  • writing about mom stuff is trickier when your kids are adulting
  • my season of transition to empty nest and new town made for some empty spaces – not a bad thing, just a quiet thing
  • I’ve always had a “so what?” question to answer before I post anything; purposeful posting if you will. That question has been hard to answer for some reason so its been quiet on the blog

But I’m feeling called back, there are topics and ideas swirling once more. I have resolved to use some discipline to gather them up, sort them out and see what will pass the “so what?” question.

  • Some of what has been calling for attention has been mother-daughter-in-law musings. (Those have been swirling for a very long time) I talk with a lot of moms about a lot of things and this topic seems to be something to chat about. Maybe because it feels a little tricky for many I kept putting it off (and off), then my son got engaged and I thought “Well, now I can’t write about it.” So I didn’t. Now I’m a fresh-faced three-week-old, baby mother-in-law, so it doesn’t seem like the time either. But the truth is the topic is worth exploring, so we’ll talk about it soon. I absolutely invite your thoughts and experiences into this conversation. (you can private fb message me, post a comment here or email me at shericarlstrom@gmail.com)
  • In this newish territory of having young adult children, I’m exploring, reading articles and hungry to walk it well. It’s another transition season and I’ll likely sort some of that out here. Which means I’m also issuing a call out for your experiences and thoughts as the parent and as the young adult. What do we do well, where are we in need of growth?
  • Faith – this area of my life is in daily need of attention, and this side of heaven, it’ll be in need of strengthening, obedience and growth.
  • Marriage
  • Friendship and community

May many conversations about many topics unfold. Let’s talk here…until I change the address of the blog. Change is good and transitions get us there. Sometimes you have to move the plant to a new place, turn it around so each side gets some sun, add some fertilizer to the water here and there, and then patiently watch it grow.

Here’s to all of that ~ cheers!

A Sensitive Journey

She made more meals than could ever be calculated; prepared rooms, snacks, desserts and more desserts for visits spanning every season and most holidays. She unwrapped and then swaddled in love each of my babies upon first look. She set up fold out couches and makeshift beds as we brought home one, then two, then three and even four kids. She allowed the dog in the house when we all knew it was a big ask. She cleaned toothpaste laden bathrooms and washed so many sheets after each visit. My mother-in-law never complained. Not once. She provided, cared and loved for years on years.

Her body betrayed her some months ago when a little stroke in her brain caused some not so little problems with her memory. That short-term memory is kind of a big deal, and as Kalie (my sister-in-law), her husband, Kevin and I sort it all out (we don’t exactly know what to sort out, or even really how to sort it out), we partner as a team to help the one we love navigate the days in her own apartment 15 miles from Kalie, 600 miles from us. (Though she alternately travels with us to our home as we step into guiding her in this tricky ground.)

Sometimes she’s quite cognoscente of her lapses, sometimes she’s not. But always she’s afraid of being a burden. Daily she enjoys the company, puzzles, walks, dogs to scratch and meals to share ~ but lingering somewhere is a desire to not be in the way. It’s a difficult battle to win. I try to put myself in her shoes, how will I feel if my children one day help me navigate my days? How will I feel purpose in days like this?

Over all those years, each time I arrived at her house, I exhaled and rested while she worked and took care. I left with a soul and body that had experienced an intermission. This is what I want to give her now. It’s all rather complicated and sometimes tricky when you kind of need but don’t really want. When you believe you can because you don’t really notice the gaps and holes.

This journey through life is to be made together, in grace. We were created for relationship, sometimes that means baking bars to later pull out of the freezer and making up the couch, sometimes it means enjoying someone else’s soup and letting others swaddle you in a love that you paid forward over lots and lots of years. And sometimes it might just feel backwards and uncomfortable, but always we hope it feels like love.

on a journey with the ones I love,
sheri

The Discipline of Shoveling Snow

We have a wonderful man who shovels our snow all winter long. He simply shows up, sometimes before we are even awake, and takes care of the snow. No doubt about it, we are lucky ducks. Last week he told me he was having surgery and wouldn’t be able to shovel for 2-6 weeks, so for now we have our old jobs back. And when I say we, I mostly mean Kevin.

Last night we got a few inches of wet, heavy snow ~ thinking of our mailman who delivers the mail door to door, I decided I would shovel just the sidewalk and front steps. While doing this I realized how happy Kevin would be to come home and see those two areas clear of snow – he would only have to do the driveway.

While working I noticed part of the sidewalk for the church two doors down was not shoveled, I thought ‘You should go shovel that sidewalk’, I quickly revealed my selfishness in my next thought, ‘But I don’t really want to.’ Then I heard this, “Do it as an act of obedience.”

After spending time in my Bible and in prayer this morning it might be expected I would want to shovel that walk, but I didn’t. ‘Maybe it wasn’t the Holy Spirit. But then…maybe it was.’  I decided I would do it after I finished my sidewalk. But felt pressed to do it immediately, before completing my own work. So I did, and as I did I thought of it my first fruit offering of labor. :)  When I finished the church’s sidewalk this thought dropped in my mind, “Well done.”

drivewayAfter finishing our sidewalk I decided to shovel just part of the driveway – to help Kevin. I had no intention of doing the whole driveway, just a wee bit of it. But I kept doing a little more, and a little more until I decided I had done enough. ‘Won’t Kevin crack up when he comes home to see everything shoveled except the center.’ But as I went to put the shovel in the garage my spirit settled on finishing the job; as an act of discipline, and as an act of service to my husband, I would finish the work before me.

As I write all these words I debate deleting the whole thing…my thoughts and actions today are just so small and selfish, not really blog worthy stuff.

But I leave the words because as I did this work in the quiet of the morning I realized I have told God I want to grow this year. Last year was a year of finding my footing in a year of big, big changes; a year of settling into my new community and into my new role as empty nester. This year I yearn to grow again. And maybe God used this as an opportunity to encourage me in small steps of obedience, discipline and service ~ attributes good for growth.

Is it possible that when we take even little steps in obedience God is pleased and offers a “Well done”? Maybe so, maybe so.

(By the time Kevin got home, it had been raining for awhile. Right away he said he was glad he hadn’t taken the time to shovel early in the morning because the rain had taken care of it! I looked at my neighbor’s driveway that had not been shoveled and her’s was as clear of snow as ours!! So I believe it’s quite possible today wasn’t about shoveling, but more about a lesson in discipline, and for that I also am well pleased.)

Before I do or say anything post election…

Before Facebook is opened, before I see how far the markets have tumbled, these words are aching to get out of me…

If your party won in the wee morning hours –  be full of grace for others.
If your party lost in the wee morning hours – be full of grace for others.

We ~ collectively, all of us, we the people must not spew crass words, arrogant statements, angry posts to each other. (I read Facebook posts at 4:00 AM was so discouraged.) We the people ~ WE THE PEOPLE have to choose another way. The hatred, lies, lewdness, vulgarity, yelling and more has got to stop with US. WE have to show the way back to each other. The leaders are far removed from us, but we are close to each other. We read each others words and feeds while drinking coffee in our pajamas, your words and my words show up in each others newsfeeds because we are close to one another. We the people have to lead the way in this. We the people have to heal our nation. It has to be us. There is one President, but there are 324,955,349 of us.

Consider not defending, yelling, being sarcastic, or praising God. It’s hard to imagine God would have anointed such a leader. We the people put two of the most unfavorable and disliked candidates on the ballot. We did that. We cannot now turn to them and count on them to lead us out of the stench that has been created. It has to be us ~ we the people.

Let us not spew fear, let us not continue the many deep divides among us. Let the world – who is watching – recognize us by our love as we rise out of this election cesspool. Fellow Christians ~ this absolutely, without delay and without question begins with us. It does.

Let us not be defined by this time in our country. Let’s use our small voices to collectively change the narrative of the United States. Let’s be responsible and graceful with our words and actions. It seems as if it is more important than ever.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,when it is in your power to act.  Proverbs 3:27

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18

Picture of Perspective

wall-street-articleToday I saw this picture in the Wall Street Journal and my heart was rocked.  This boy is young. Too young to be fleeing for his life, trying to save these animals, which may possibly be his family’s livelihood. Look how strong he is as he holds on to the resistant horse, and tries to heard the goats. What turmoil he is living in, what hardship has befallen him; it’s quite unfathomable to me.

Each of my kids has come to my mind one by one today. I’ve considered their current situations and am grateful that despite any real struggles they may be walking in, they are not fleeing for their lives. They are not standing with outstretched arms trying desperately to hold on to family assets. They are not wondering if they will ever get to go home again.

Last month Zach, our almost 22 year old son broke two bones, tore muscles and ripped a tendon in his ankle. He hobbled around for a week before surgery. He’s lived in pain, fatigue, discomfort and dependence on others for several weeks. Getting to classes around a large university has not been easy. I’ve witnessed and respected his display of strength of  body, mind and character during this time. Yet still my heart has wished for less pain, more healing and more independence for him. Even as evidence of strengthening faith and the providence of God have been present, despite little to no complaint from Zach, my heart wants it to be easier for him. I want him to be at football games, not selling his tickets. I wish he could drive his car, not ask others for a ride. I wish he could carry his own plate to the table.

The picture above has not diminished in my eyes the difficulty Zach is in, but it made me thankful his biggest problems are what they are, not escaping from an ISIS held village. Our country is far from utopia, but we are currently not being slaughtered village by village or being held as human shields. Tonight I take this young boy under the wings of my prayers, asking God for His providence for him, his family, their animals ~ hoping he has found a place to rest and be safe. I’m sure I stand with his mom and dad as they seek and pray for things to not be so hard for their boy.

Give Them Life ~ Again

“I brought you into this world and I can take you out!”
~a mom

Words hopefully none of us have ever uttered! But these words are very, very true.

Zach - just bornWhen my sweet babies were placed into my arms that very first time I could hardy believe I had brought life into the world. The pain of labor and delivery immediately swept away by the appearance of a tiny human being who needed me to keep her (and then him, and then once again her) alive! From my lips came soft kisses, a tender voice and late night whispers telling them of my love for them.

We use our voices and lives to speak love, life, confidence, teaching and more into our children; it seems to come fairly naturally when they’re little. But there came a time when from my lips came words and tones that weren’t always so affirming. Those tones and words had the power not to give them life, but to take them out.  When one child became two children –  some new and raw emotions seemed to come out of nowhere. (Or possibly due to a baby that cried for me and only me. Oh, and he didn’t nap.) Suddenly all my words weren’t so life giving. Words that came forth when milk was spilled could be soaked in impatience and sprinkled with frustration, denting little minds and hearts.

I knew I wanted to breathe life into them, not suck  life out of them, so I got help in changing a legacy that had formed within me; I learned how to quit banging into my kids with harsh words and a loud voice. Isn’t it a little bit scary to realize we have this power to shape and mold? I wasn’t always sure I wanted that responsibility; it’s so big, with the ability to affect generations to come!

And the truth is, these darlings of ours can be so darn challenging! But maybe the reality is that the challenge is discovering how to continue to be life giving when circumstances, responses, our children, or people in general aren’t so easy. As moms and women I believe we have a unique ability to keep our sons, daughters, our son & daughter-in-laws, and other women around us afloat when it feels sticky and hard.

As a mom I’m still growing in the life-giving area. Sometimes I’ve said things that have sucked the life right out of my adult and adult-ish kids. I don’t mean to, it’s never my intention and I strive to fix it when I’m aware – or made aware – that I’ve done or said something that took some life out of them. (In the sting of learning I’ve hurt my kid’s feelings, I’m always grateful they trust our relationship to share that truth.) My best guess is I will always be growing in this area because I keep traveling into new territory with them as they get older, have more life experiences and are more independent.

I’ve walked alongside women whose mom’s haven’t been life giving with their words and actions. I believe we have multitudes of opportunities to breathe life into each other in ways that are nurturing, even maternal. With Mother’s Day approaching, look around in your circles, is there a mom within your reach who might benefit from some words of encouragement and life? There are women around us whose moms have passed on, maybe we could send a card or even text those women on Sunday, breathing a little life into them.

Since I met my mother-in-law over 27 years ago she has been kind, gracious, respectful and loving, but I’ve heard that isn’t the experience of every daughter-in-law! If you are a mother-in-law, the power you have to bless your daughter or son-in-law is incredible. I’m not there yet, but when I am I hope to measure my words, tones, time, expectations and authenticity in ways that breathe life into them.

Here’s the bottom line, Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” and Proverbs 16:24 says “Gracious words are flowing honey, sweet to the taste and healing to the bones.” So as a mom, a friend and simply as a woman, I’m aiming for recognizing the power of my tongue, as well as striving to be gracious in my words that I might be healing to the bones and life giving to the soul; that I would give life again and again.

Getting Rid of What I Didn’t Plant

20160425_123000_001Gardening has never been my thing. I love bright flowers blooming all summer long, I buy them in the spring and put them in the ground & pots, easy-peasy!  But this new old house we’re living in now has flower beds all along the fence lines. 96 feet of beds; mostly it’s overgrown groundcover ~ greens and ivy. There are a few peony plants, daffodils and tulips that pop up here and there and I believe I remember a hosta from last year. Since I don’t like to garden I had decided to leave well enough alone, grateful for a few perennials amongst the tangles of green; until a few weeks ago when it all looked very overgrown and reckless.

Insert a sunny 70 degree day and a spark of initiative; I boldly  decided I would clear the ground around the peonies and tulips, giving them room to breathe and stand out. I ended up working over two hours ~ on a portion of ground spanning one section of fence. I didn’t enjoy it. It was quite the work for six feet. (Later that day my neighbor told me she had not seen anyone work in those flower beds for the 16 years she’s lived here ~ that explains a lot!)

The next day I decided to tackle another section ~ back breaking work, plus after I was done yanking, pulling and digging I had to clean up of the piles of debris I had pulled out! Not my thing. I’m impatient and don’t like tedious work, case in point, a few weeks ago I weeded the garden that’s in good shape along our driveway. (Due to Kevin’s back breaking work last year!) I pulled out the weeds leaving them in the driveway for him to clean up. I’m not proud of that. My thought was I had a tub to scrub and a bathroom floor inside to clean, and he usually does all the outside work, so really I was helping him! I even had the nerve to tell him that!  (Sometimes he must look up and say “Really God, this was your best for me?!!”)

The sections I had tended to along the fence were now standing out from the neglect. Motivated, I tackled a third section, not fun. But on Monday I did one more section and that’s when everything began to turn. By now I had learned pulling out the ivy was different from digging out the other green groundcover plant. I also noticed all that ivy seemed to have slithered over from my neighbor’s garden just on the other side of the fence.

As I worked the ground in the sun that day I thought a lot about how often our lives are similar to this gardening situation.

20160425_123037It looks good but is it what I wanted?
Because of our proximity, what my neighbor intentionally put on her side of the fence, unintentionally became a part of my side of the fence. Two years ago at first glance I thought it was OK, in fact helpful as I didn’t have to do the work of cultivating my own garden; my ground just absorbed what was hers. But as I pulled back the vines I could see they were choking what had at one time been intentionally been planted in my garden. Although it was easy to let this groundcover take over, it wasn’t what I wanted, it didn’t really reflect me.

Getting to the root of it can be complicated.
20160425_125926
By the fourth day I discovered a deep respect for root systems. I learned before pulling the root if I gently moved the soil  away, exposing more and more of the root, more often than not I could remove the entire root. Though the longer the plant had been there the more connected its roots were to other vines with more roots, creating intricate systems of connection. It’s impressive what lies beneath the surface. Sometimes I just couldn’t get to the bottom of the root and it would break off. As I heard the snap I knew that one might stay below the ground and look OK for awhile, but sooner or later that unwanted plant will resurface. I’m realizing once we decide to clean something up, it doesn’t necessarily mean we get rid of all the undesirables below the surface at first swipe, it’s more of a process.

20160425_143753Pruning
It’s also clear that learning about separating bulbs and pruning  plants is on my list. Some of the plants I want to keep are overcrowded and blooming sparsely, even a novice like me can see that a little separation will allow the tulips to become more healthy. Pruning the daisy plant will help its overall health, a website tells me, and allow it to put its energy into new growth. Hmmmmm….sometimes even good things need pruning to make way for growth.

Support
There’s a small tree in the corner by the garage that is growing out at an angle. It’s clear a support and twine would go a long to help this sapling go in its intended direction.

The hard work is worth it.
I’ve put ten hours in thus far and have many more to go, I thought I would hate every minute of it but I don’t. I’m happy with the result and find myself excited and proud of work I’ve done. Similar to life, what sometimes feels like a tangled mess can become something beautiful with pulling, pruning and getting to the root of that which you really didn’t want planted in the first place.

The Church Search

I would not have chosen to leave our church, but when we moved 90 miles up the road last fall we decided that was too far to drive each Sunday. (Although for a minute we considered it.) There were a slew of things that made it difficult to leave, the most significant being many of the people in our church had become like family.

In 2011 Christmas landed on a Sunday, the question wasn’t if we were going to church, in fact I thought it would be quite special to sit with so many good friends on Christmas morning, the question was ~ what to wear. Our family stays in pajamas all day on Christmas, with feeling like our church is family the girls and I decided to go in our pajamas. (The guys wore suits – to balance our attire.) Our church family had become so much a part of our lives that our pajama decision seemed natural. (Note: except for a few children, we were the only people, in a packed church, wearing pajamas! I still don’t regret that decision.)

For fourteen years our church was a central part of our lives. This tribe came alongside us and our children, having influence in each of our lives. They led us, ministered to us, loved us, and gave us opportunities to grow in service to, and care for others. Consequently our search for a new church is not something we’ve taken lightly; this new community will matter to us.

It was harder than expected to begin the search, in fact we took many Sundays off. (During this time so many kept asking us if we had found a church yet. That, my friends, is a caring question for which we were grateful.)  Kevin and I knew we wouldn’t give up meeting together with a group of believers, so at last we began our church search in earnest. When we did began our quest to find a church home I quickly discovered it was with grieving heart; I missed my people and the connection I felt each week. Going to church doesn’t feel the same here, but I have been known to say, “God is not a feeling”, so our search is about so much more than settling into a feeling. We are not going to feel connected right away anyway, so we will look for the things we’ve learned are important through our home church, they did these things well.

As we talk through our Sunday experiences we’ve focused on these things:

  • Is the message scripture based, and is scripture used in context?
    Teaching the Word is what matters. We’re looking for the Word to be clear and the gospel truth to be heard.
  • Is worship led or performed?
    Worship leaders have the awesome responsibility and honor of leading us to the throne, the cross, to God. Excellence in worship matters, performing does not.  I’m being challenged with a little different worship style, but worship isn’t about me, it’s about God. I want familiar worship, but what I need is to focus on what matters, and that’s not me. This is not a bad challenge for me to be working through.
  • Do the people seem connected to each other, is the atmosphere friendly and welcoming?
    This matters because “the church” is the people. How they interact with each other gives a window into who they are.
  • Is this a church that serves beyond it’s walls?
    Love God, love others ~ this is the greatest command, so this matters.
  • Does what we believe align with their “What we believe” statement?

We have chosen a church to attend each Sunday. We are mostly in that place of “last in and first out” on Sunday mornings ~ we call it hovering. We’re getting closer to the ground, but we’re not quite ready to land. We’re grateful for the opportunity to occasionally drive to our home church, where they did the above things well, and also feeling peaceful about the steps we’re taking to land in a new church community.

If you’ve had to search for a new church home, please feel invited to share your experience by leaving a comment. I’d be so interested in learning about your church search process!

More than pictures

Fifty-nine days ago the move to Marshall was official, and for each of those days I’ve been capturing a photo of at least one moment that has made me happy. I suspected the 100HappyDaysChallenge would be a good discipline for me as I adjusted to this new season with it’s many, many changes. At this point I can report that it is valuable and centering to intentionally look for one thing, view, moment or person each day that makes me happy.

This move has gone more smoothly than I anticipated; the level of peace I continue to feel is unexpected. A friend recently told me I look “so good”, I’ve thought about that compliment a few times. ( Who wouldn’t want to replay that kind of compliment!) I believe that living apart from Kevin for two years was more stressful that I acknowledged, even to myself. We did what we knew was best for Erin and never looked back, but being together is what we were meant to be, so I think some stress lines have disappeared simply because we are reunited. (Truth be told, I’ve also discovered a really  great new make-up foundation, so there’s that!)

On a recent photo a friend remarked that our town seems perfect. When I read that I knew it was time to write a reality check post, lest the #100happydays project projects a false sense of perfection! Let me say that I am engaged in and appreciating the Happy Days challenge, but like that really good make-up foundation I recently discovered, the project may be responsible for making me look better than I really do.

it is wellThis blog is about real life. My heart is to be encouraging by writing about all of life, so let me get real with you today. First, things truly are going well. Second, there is an issue that has been hard, really hard. It’s regarding our youngest son and it’s all sort of tricky to talk about. The bigger picture of life in our new town is that he has been making some decisions and crossing some lines that have caused us to make some difficult decisions and reinforce some lines. Much of it is not pretty and there is no filter to apply that would enhance the picture. I share this because it’s more of a panoramic view, and considering I share my life with others I want to be honest, not deceptive, even unintentionally.

It’s hard to be in a town where no one knows you. Or your family. Or your history. Or your story…or your character. Walking through this would be easier in our community of sixteen years, but that is not our reality so we walk on being challenged to do the hard, right thing. To seek God and not justify, or feel the need to explain, or to be understood. To lean not on man, but on God who knows our hearts. For me, this is sometimes hard, hard stuff. I share this here not to garner words or sympathy or even prayers (though I’d never turn away a prayer!) but to show more than the scrapbook pictures of our life.

The thing about social media is that it’s part of our picture, not the whole picture. Think about our scrapbooks, we pick the best pictures to fill the pages, the things we want to document, record and remember. I never went around taking pictures of my house when it was a disaster or shot videos of my kids arguing, but those things were also a part of our lives.

For forty-one days I will continue to document one thing a day which brings me a sense of peace, joy or a happy feeling. It will remain a very good and important daily discipline, helping to remind my soul that it is well.