Saturday, March 2, 2013

New Ordinary

I've been caught all week between feeling cooped up and feeling like a homebody. I want out. I want in. It must be March.

There have been sick little kids and heart-sick big kids and wild kids and naughty kids and silly kids and stinking cute kids. So many kids.

My life - or what I used to think of as "my life" feels more and more irrelevant to the one I'm really meant to live. On a bad day I think it's wearing me down, but on a good one, I'm thankful to the rafters that I'm trusted to do this big, meaningful work.

And by "big", I mean really quite small. I mean taking phone calls when part of me thinks I deserve a chance to catch up on Nashville episodes.

I officially dub this past week The Week of the Phone. And if you know me at all, you know how this might pain me. You know how many times I wanted to hit Ignore and keep on trucking.

But I've been entrusted with these calls, entrusted with the callers. I've been summoned to the edge of my bravery, where on my own I'm inclined to believe the worst. I've been nudged past the idea that I can opt out of a neighbor's knock at my door. I swear I can feel Jesus smoothing down my hair as He promises me that I can parent with grace.

Conventional wisdom says we can't help anyone unless we take care of ourselves first. It's nice in theory. But the truth is, we were called to the very opposite. So I'm trying to learn to swing wide in the direction of anyone but me. I'm failing and flailing. I'm scanning the tree-line for a little absolution. I'd love to pluck some vindication from a low-hanging limb.

All the while, I see these faces. I see the gift that they are. I see the way they start to scour my crud away so that I can begin to see the truth about things. I see that it doesn't matter who we lost to find them - they are home to us now.

God comes through and He ladles out grace, fills our bowls way up. The windows are slim but they sure bring the light so we tilt our faces to the sun and we linger while it lasts. We snatch up friends who care about loving us more than they care about understanding us. We steal away catnaps, packages in the mail, late night reality tv, pop up pancakes, dimpled baby hands.

We make art for art's sake and because it stills the thrum.

Then when she rides up on her bike just as we're unloading cranky kids, a hungry baby girl, and a bucket of chicken, we ask her to come inside. It is not my first instinct but thank God, I've learned not to trust all of those.

She takes the leg at first but eventually, the biggest, juiciest piece in the box. She's much too loveable to feel like anything other than straight-up luck, but we go ahead and take that, too - the gift of her and all her chipped-tooth beauty, sitting slick-fingered at our table at the end of a very long week.


  1. Oh Shannan, YES! YES! I've been thinking so much lately about something you said up there: one theory that seems universally accepted and unquestioned in our culture. . .Moms, take care of yourself first! You can't take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself! It just sits so lopsided in my head. It's universally accepted, and yet it just feels wrong to me. As a mom of two little kids and a follower of Jesus, I cannot accept that *I'm* the one I should be thinking about first. Finally in my life I feel like I really get how to put myself last (teenagers can't fathom it and 20-somethings have a hard time with it. . .at least I did), and I am reveling in the achievement of that understanding. Only for every magazine, ad, pop-psychologist, everyone, to say the opposite. So just, thank you for voicing something more true. I'm not saying we should be demeaned, walk behind our husbands down the street, or anything like that. But getting a babysitter so I can have a spa day on a regular basis? Having a nanny so that I can have some peace and quiet time to myself daily or weekly? (These are things I see women doing in my own neighborhood, women I go to church with.) NO. NO. We're here on earth to learn how to love each other and love God, by SERVING. Not by telling ourselves how much we deserve a break every ten minutes! Thank you for saying it!

  2. Well I must say you are always just precious love the fact that you love Jesus and all the sweet lil babes around you small, big and all in between.Whatever you are doing is working so just endure it all.Bless you and all the rest.~Cheers

  3. "It is not my first instinct but thank God, I've learned not to trust all of those." This sums it all up. I need to stop living by my instincts so much.

  4. I love to read how you live it out, Shannan. You don't feel like you're prepared? You've got the best Coach and He is training you while you train your littles. Such a blessing to read your journey here.

  5. You know I have been struggling with this concept of "you have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others." I do believe that is God's take care of me...don't you? I believe HE will feel me up. I have to believe that. For us all...but especially for the mothers. Our job is endless...eternal...constant. It is a privilege, not a chore...even when it feels like a chore (think laundry day...wait...that's every day). I am challenging God (don't you think he laughs when we do this) to fill me up...I give up that responsibility, I have plenty already. I know that He will, I can't wait to see what HE thinks I need...instead of what I think I need. I know, took me a while to get here, right? So happy you are headed to Tejas...our old stomping ground. So sad you are not going to Austin...truly one of the coolest places on planet earth. You my dear, would luuuuuuurv it. Texmex is truly devine. Be well sweet internet friend. That you continue to offer up your life experience is a very special gift. Thanks. -Vicki

    1. I just read what I wrote, and I quote, "He will feel me up" I do believe I meant FILL me up...not FEEL me up...hee hee...that would be my husbands job. Oh glory be...more coffee please (and a little editing before hitting publish!!!)

  6. I am new to you blog and have enjoyed reading through some of your posts. What a beautiful family you have. I am looking forward to visiting again soon!

    I love this is so true!
    Have a wonderful Sunday!

  7. Your ordinary is no ordinary thing to me!

  8. I agree with Hannah singer.

    "God comes through and He ladles out grace, fills our bowls way up." likely those bowls are overflowing and making a big mess...a gracious, glorious mess.

  9. Take this conventional wisdom: we are really helping ourself when we help/serve others because that's when we truly come alive. And you my friend, are alive!

  10. Love the art. Love your heart.

  11. i see peeks of your house and i feel weird because i haven't been there and it bugs me. btw you know we share that phone peeve. we could use a chat, but drat i hate the phone.

  12. oh my god (and yes, that is a prayer of thanksgiving and grace and hope and longing).

    thank you.

  13. It is all about that word 'first' isn't it? I mean, I actually am inclined to believe that God loves to see us laugh, embrace our gifts, revel in the good times, yes, fun is allowed!, and most times sleep, eat, take care of ourselves in a way that makes us fit and healthy and joyfully ready to do his business, ( I LOVE that bit in Chariots of Fire when Eric Lidle says he can feel God's pleasure when he runs!). But if it is all about me 'first', that is when it all gets way out of whack for me because often I find we have to love away until our comfortable sense of independence and entitlement lies in a sorry heap on the floor, and the 'following' leads us to places we would really much rather avoid, and a necessity to let go of things we thought were important/good. And sometimes the self denial feels huge, sometimes just niggly, but so often it is just then when all the grace rains down. Sometimes the call will be to the downright scary and dangerous and leaving behind everything, but even then I hope the grace is in such measure, we feel excited to go. Is that overly optimistic? I guess it is all wrapped up in obedience?

    And the bubba's sleeping face in profile is swoony!

  14. I would love to see more of your life! It's incredible to me, the way that you are trusting and following Jesus, how you are loving those around you. You are an inspiration Shannan <3

  15. "...So I'm trying to learn to swing wide in the direction of anyone but me."

    What a refreshing perspective! I just started reading your blog and have been so encouraged. Thank you for your sweet words and transparency. More people need to share that they are "failing and flailing", I think it would help us understand the gospel more if we were transparent about not being perfect!

    On another note, have you shared where your kitchen floors are from? We're looking for an inexpensive laminate and yours are beautiful!

    thanks again for blogging.


    1. Sure thing!

      Inhaus - Shenendoah Hickory (Timeless Impressions collection)

      Good luck with your project. :)

  16. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we out to lay down our lives for our brothers." Laying down my life doesn't sound like taking care of myself first...sounds hard, messy, inconvenient, and often makes me irritable. BUT i do believe it is how we are called to live...and in the end is the most life giving way to live...mostly because it constantly causes me to press in to Jesus out of sheer desperateness for MORE of Him! You are living the "good" life, sister, and i have no doubt the Father is looking over you fondly thinking, "well done my daughter!" Love you!

  17. I love this. I'm so happy you wrote what you did about putting others first. I hear a lot about putting myself first when it comes to mothering. Now I do try to sleep well and not starve to death (on the contrary, in fact! haha!) and definitely keep the basics covered, but I always feel like anything I do for them, I'm really doing for me, too. And anything I do for others I'm really doing for Him, too. (Hey, this sounds suspiciously like the golden rule!) I really believe He takes care of us when we take care of others.

    Love all your words, FPFG. And paint and playdough on the same table?! I'm nominating you for mother-of-the-year. And I'm also refusing to show that photo to my kids. You're making me look bad... haha!

  18. good evening! so, I've been processing what you wrote about conventional wisdom and how it should be the exact opposite... i'd be interested in hearing more of your thoughts with this...
    I am a part of Al Anon (recovery program for friends and family of alcoholics)and taking care of ourselves is a HUGE part of the program. And, when I think about Jesus' ministry, there were many times he stepped away from those he was teaching and ministering to in order to have some prayer time alone with God. If I keep going, serving others, and don't take time for myself to meet with God, take a deep breath, and do something for myself, I quickly become an unpleasant person. This is something I need to do daily for myself and for the people around me.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I totally agree with what you're saying. Of course there's an element of basic survival (in body and spirit) I guess what I'm talking about more is the hard-to-live reality that Christ should be first, and that often what that means in my life is that serving someone other than myself comes first. I am also a HUGE believer in taking breaks, having dinner with girlfriends, curling up with salsa and The Bachelor. And I think those things are important and good. But they just can't come first. I think God gives us so much grace and so many little breaks and we'd be fools not to take them! But there are also the times when I want to do something for me and I know there's something else more important at that moment... I'm trying to get better at defaulting to service, knowing well that God has my back and will also give me rest.

      It needs to be said again: I'm not very good at all of this. :) And I struggle often to find the line.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your perspective. I have a feeling the two of us ultimately come down on the same side of this coin. THIS is why I love the body of Christ! We learn and grow together.

  19. Thanks, chicka! I really appreciate you sharing more! You are right, we fall on the same side of the coin. Dying to ourselves, picking up Christ's cross... Loving others like we love ourselves...hard stuff! But you nailed it, God provides for all our needs when we say yes to him & those he calls us to love.

  20. Ladled out grace - oh how I need it every day.

  21. Oh my goodness! I love your home, your story, and your blog! Newest follower and THANK YOU so much for inspiring!

    Hugs from here,

    Jessie @acozycottageinthecity

  22. Oh my, this post made me soul cleansing, truth reading, lovely way. Thanks for your humor, your candor, your faith, and most importantly, your honesty.

  23. bah.


    "take care of yourself so you can take care of others"

    man oh man, if i had a penny for every time an older (than me) christian woman advised me on that... they follow it up with saying that on planes you have to put on your gas mask before you can put on your children's or the guy sitting next to you who doesn't have hands(or something....). I get how it might be "wise" to do that. But geez, it seems contradictory to what Jesus asks.

    Do I trust Him enough to either not care much whether I get my own mask on in time or believe He'll give me time to put mine on too, if He wants? Ha. Rambling. But yeah, totally agree. It is super hard and being learned and failed at every day, but letting Him be the one to provide the rest, not depending on myself to know what I need to keep going, to keep serving--it's good.

    It is His great pleasure to give us everything we need to do His will, so why don't we believe He'll take care of us in the process of serving? He will. And I think even though we might be more exhausted than ever conceivable at times, He gives joy to keep going. I am more joyful than ever when I am bone tired but absolutely certain I am spending myself on others and He is getting the glory.

    Anyways, good stuff.


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