Five Finds Friday (a homemade hamburger bun and a novel thrice read)

 

It’s been one of those weeks that has been both filled and empty.  Both speedy and long.

And now it’s over.  (This week, I mean.)

 

 

FUNNY

 

You can have two funnies this week.  Buy one get one free.  

The Lego Batman movie.  It was indeed rather hilarious – even to a non-cartoon fan such as myself.

And the second funny —

In our small group this week there was a neat activity where everyone had a piece of paper with their name on it.  The paper was passed around and everyone had a chance to write encouraging words or a sweet sentiment for that person on their paper.

(I love these types of things.  I did one once with some girls I taught in high school and I still have my note – probably from fifteen years ago.  It’s just so helpful to be reminded in low times how other people see you and to read their words of encouragement over you.)

I was reading over the notes the kids received and couldn’t help but laugh when I read what Bergen wrote to his sister Mosely on her paper.

(Backstory – Mosely has a notoriously difficult time with fire ants.  Our lawn is riddled with them and the fire ants especially adore and locate Mosely’s feet.  They always have. It’s a situation.)

Bergen wrote:

Mosely, in your honor – I curse the fire ants. 

 

 

FASHIONABLE

 

For real, this week — I have no fashion.  And no thoughts about fashion.  I’m calling a pass.

You tell ME what is fashionable this week.

 

FLAVORFUL

 

Sometimes we like to go all out and make all of our meal from scratch.  (And sometimes we go to Five Guys and buy burgers there.)

Actually, I pretty much NEVER make burgers at home.  I don’t own a grill.  I’m not a great burger cook and it takes a lot of ground beef to make burgers for the whole family so usually I choose more economical meat dishes where one pound of beef goes farther.

But not this week.  This week we had a classic burger and fries dinner.  Except we made our own hamburger buns.  And London used her deep fryer to make homemade french fries.  (I love homemade french fries.  I love potatoes.  Dipped in hot oil.  Generously coated in salt.  I like them when they get too crispy.  I like when they don’t get quite done.)

 

 

It was a simple meal in theory, I guess.  But it was pretty to us and an exceptionally large hit with my table mates.

I used this hamburger bun recipe.  (And I did what one of the commenters did – lowered both the oil and the sugar to 3 T only.)

 

FAITHFUL

 

This week’s faithful notes and evidences of God’s grace and kindness:  An entire group of friends who, without pause, offer to watch the kids while I attend a work dinner for this new Travelers Rest Here gig.  A dad who calls from the road and talks and wants to know his grandchildren and to be part of the story of their lives.  Kids who ask “How’d the meeting go, Mom?”.  Opportunities to network and talk and connect for progress on the website.  The generous guidance of skilled people who answer the myriad of ridiculous questions I ask about techie stuff that my mind cannot handle.  Trusted church leaders who are kind enough to listen, brave enough to correct, empathetic enough to weep alongside me, wise enough to say “I don’t know.”, strong enough to guide me to ask better questions.  Hot tea.  Freshly groomed dogs.  Genuine and deep conversations with children.

And the words to songs like this:

I take all the gifts that You have given and I stake my claim like they’re my own,
Will You help me when I forget to remember, the good I’ve got is yours alone.

Oh ’cause I don’t wanna tell some arrogant story
Or let myself believe I’m you!
I don’t wanna be a thief who’s stealing Your glory …
Will You help remind me of what is true?

The ONLY hope I’ve got, it’s You,You.
It’s You,You.

Or do I think I have anything to offer, when You have overcome the world?
Couldn’t take Your place, ’cause You’re the Author of the greatest love this world has known.

Well it’s only by Your grace…
That I heard You whisper my name.
I don’t have the power to save – to change a heart,
Could You come and change my heart.

— Ellie Holcomb

 

FEELS

 

I like to reread books occasionally.  After seeing Wendell Berry, I reread Hannah Coulter.

For the third time.

I figured, since it was the third time I’d read it, and being so familiar with the story line, that surely the tears would fall less rapidly.  Maybe even not at all.  I mean, it’s a tender story, but one that I know.  That I’ve already cried over.

Nope.  Wrong.

In classic me style, it was like 2 a.m. and there was a child snoozing in my bed and my sobs were so difficult to contain that I felt certain I’d wake the sleeping boy next to me.

I did not.

But I still struggled to breathe accurately and like a normal human as I read the words that are just so beautifully poignant, so full of truth and sweeping history and grief and gratitude.  A love that reads more real and enduring than the love story I watch weekly on “This Is Us”.  (Even though I adore Jack and Rebecca.  Well.  I don’t adore Rebecca.  She makes me angry.  But you know.)

Hannah Coulter has officially risen to the top on my list of Top Five Favorite Books.  It has replaced Fair and Tender Ladies and Jane Eyre and To Kill A Mockingbird.  I forget what book has earned fifth place – Man’s Search for Meaning or The Silver Chair or Turn My Mourning into Dancing.

For many reasons and for the grand and sweeping way that the novel covers a lifetime and yet takes place in one small town, really on one small farm, mostly in one character’s mind.

You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember it always just the way it was. But you can’t remember it the way it was. To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. It can return only by surprise. Speaking of these things tells you that there are no words for them that are equal to them or that can restore them to your mind. And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence. But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remember now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive.
—- Wendell Berry

 

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how a year round schedule is saving our homeschool. (and me.)

 

Two years ago the Wildwood Halls of Ivy (that’s our fancy registered homeschool name) switched it up.

We started doing school year round.

 

 

I’d say the year round aspect of school has been a complete success.  I’m so glad we made the shift.  I only wish I had done year round school always.

The first year we tried year round our schedule (and our life) was in quite a bit more upheaval than it currently is and our weeks off were widely flexible.  God was gracious and that free time fit our needs more organically and fluidly when the occasion called for it.  It worked, but I wouldn’t call it an ideal year and I’d love to never repeat it.

This year we’ve been much more capable of sticking to a more consistent routine.  Pretty much right on target we’ve attended school for six weeks on and one week off, Christmas break being an exception.

 

 

I tell you what, every six weeks, on that one week off, I am convinced that this schedule (and that one free week) are literally saving my sanity.  (And therefore rescuing the sanity of my children as a byproduct.)

It’s a genius plans for our house right now.  A perfect fit.  (The troubling truth about perfect fits in a homeschool rhythm is that they are not eternally perfect.  Much to my disappointment.)  But, for right now, it’s just what we need.

At the six week mark in home educating, I’m not completely spent, exhausted, burned out or frustrated, but I’m anxious for a break and just shy of several of those adjectives.

During the previous six weeks I’ve had time to delve into subjects and to see where the gaps are in each student’s particular areas of weaknesses and the beams of sunlight in each student’s strengths.

My finger is on the pulse, so to speak.  And I’m ready and capable of doing the fine tuning.  A week off to plan and to reorganize and to redirect is well timed.

 

 

At six weeks a couple of household chores have stacked up and I am actually motivated to conquer them.  I’ve got a handful of recipes I want to cook, stories I want to tell, letters I want to send, long phone calls I want to make, mornings I want to sleep in, board games I want to play, Netflix series I want to introduce the kids to.

And for a few days we sleep in or stay home or take a trip.  We clean up or make piles for the thrift store.  The kids play Legos for hours on end.  We plan elaborate meals (like an entirely homemade burger and fries dinner I’ll surely share in a Five Finds Friday post soon).

 

 

During the week off I spend a little time regrouping and adding in structure where it’s been lost and taking out extras that have bogged us down and pinpointing some special areas the kids need to progress in.

And then I spend several days NOT thinking about school at all.  I write and dive into larger projects.  I organize the kitchen pantry.  I sit on the porch and read extra chapters of the book I keep forgetting about.

And by the week’s end, I am ready to ramp up for six more weeks.  I’m encouraged to hold tight to what works in our routine and to let go of what is tedious and unhelpful.  I’ve got an energy boost, like drinking a five hour energy beverage or something, but less weird and scary.

 

 

If I could have a homeschool do-over, I’d start right from the beginning with this six weeks on and one week off routine.  But I don’t have a do-over.  (Not for school.  Not for life.)  But I have this school year, this next six weeks, this schedule right now.

And it is saving me, saving our homeschool, empowering me as a teacher and as a human, protecting us from burn out and fatigue, from despair and slack.

Hooray for a week off.  And hooray for six weeks on.  It’s working so well for right now.

 

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Ripley’s Gatlinburg Attractions: A Review in Three Parts, Part 2 (The 5D Moving Theatre)

 

I’m including the same intro and review before and after each of these three reviews.  You can read our family’s Mirror Maze Review here.

_________________

 

Gatlinburg in the winter is a different sort of town than Gatlinburg in the summer.

When we took our recent adventure to the mountain town, we found it sleepy and quiet and that’s exactly the way we liked it.  Traffic was minimal (except for the weekend) and the streets were not overcrowded and the restaurants had no wait time.  Again – that’s exactly what we love – especially when we are always a party of six (at least) and generally tables for six are not as readily available at peak times.

The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was hands down our favorite activity of the week, but we had some great laughs and funny moments at several other stopping points along the Gatlinburg streets.

In exchange for writing honest reviews, the kind folks who run all of the Ripley’s attractions offered us tickets to a few of their other museums and amusements.  I’ll be sharing all three reviews in a three part series over the next week or so.

 

Ripley’s 5D Moving Theatre

 

For the life of us, we never could quite figure out what all the “Ds” stood for here.

Ripley’s 5D Moving Theatre is exactly what you think it is – one of those moving roller coaster-esque experiences where you are seated in one chair the entire time, but through the magic of 3D and moving chairs and giant screens, you feel exactly as if you have been on a roller coaster or a jet plane or a parachute or a log flume or a helicopter or a sinking ship or all of the above.

 

 

Our Ripley’s attendee was rather enthusiastic and very kind and quite chatty as we prepped ourselves for the “ride”.  For my kids, this was their first moving theatre experience to their recollection.  (Seems to me I have vague memories of riding one at some museum with them, but as not one of them said they could remember that and my memory is rather hazy on it, we’re calling it the first.)  The theatre was small, but more than adequate for a large number of guests.  During our ride there was only our family and two other couples.  London and Mosely decided rapidly and emphatically that they were not interested in the seats that moved a lot and anxiously sat together in the first row – a row of seats that were completely stationary.  Provided for those guests who were pregnant, suffering from heart conditions, suffering from back pain, prone to motion sickness or otherwise unable to actually enjoy the experience for which they had just forked over some cash.

I knew the girls would be missing the real gist of the ride, but I wasn’t willing to force the motion on them if they truly were not interested.  They still both received their 3D glasses and they seemed content with their choice.

During our ride – where we faced landslides and avalanches and swept through both the jungle and the tundra, also the arctic and the ocean (we were really time and space traveling) – we were jolted and raised and shaken in our seats.  The kids (the ones in moving seats with me) laughed and sighed and screamed at all the appropriate places.  I felt a lot like I was just in a car accident and suffering through some serious whiplash, but I wanted to be a team player and not an old person prone to motion sickness (which is what I actually am, in fact) so I endured the shifting and the shaking and the jolting and the jarring.  I endured.  They enjoyed.  (That seems par for the parenting course sometimes, does it not?)

 

 

We never did count all the “Ds” but there was the movement of the chairs of course and the 3D glasses and screen and another was also water that sprayed on us as we went down the waterfall and snow that fell from the “sky” as we hung out with the penguins.

London and Mosely, as one might expect, did not report their enjoyment levels to be as high as say, Otto and Piper and Bergen did.  However, Mosely also did not suffer from an upset stomach, to which she is prone, so – that’s a win.

It was fun to see the younger kids, especially Otto and Piper, really get a kick out of the moving seats and the snow coming down (I actually really liked the snow effect too).  I can’t say the movies are high quality – they are definitely more about falling coasters and moving fast than any semblance of a plot or characters.  But – hey, that’s not why we were there.  We were there for 3D glasses, falling snow inside a building and jumping off virtual waterfalls in a virtual boat!

 

In Review

 

I’d say the key to all Gatlinburg attractions is the same, keep your expectations in line.  Recognize that this is not Disney.  This is Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  These are mirror mazes and world record museums and 5D moving theaters on a street in a mountain town.  A town that sells footlong corn dogs at place called Fannie Farkle’s for the same price that you can buy two kids’ meals at Chick-fil-A.  

Be reasonable, guys.  

If you are visiting Gatlinburg for the second (or thirtieth) time, you already know this.

And you’re okay with it.

You’re making these return trips to Pigeon Forge and to Gatlinburg, to the cabins and to the go cart rides, to the outlets and to the pancake houses, because it’s nostalgic, because you first came to Gatlinburg as a kid with your Memaw and your Pepaw, because you brought your toddlers here and you remember how big their eyes grew when they first ordered their silver dollar pancakes at the Pancake Pantry and rode their first roller coaster at Dollywood and you like the idea of returning to the same quirky streets that seem like they never change, old time photo shops on every corner and a gem store and wooden guns and beanie babies.  That’s why you come to Gatlinburg.

So you stroll through the mirror maze and you let the kids buy a couple of pieces of candy and you stop in for the free fudge samples (always take the free fudge, people) and you admire the hand crafted wooden knives and you buy the funnel cake and you stack up those memories and that nostalgia for all its worth.

Expectations, friends.  Most adventures fare better when you can manage your expectations.

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what bok choy can do . . .

 

Bok Choy.

Until a few weeks ago I don’t think I had ever heard of it.

London and I took a cooking class together and it was one of the foods we learned to prepare.  It’s leafy (kind of) and green and we learned to prepare it simply by basically wilting it with olive oil and salt over heat.  We served it up alongside our Chinese meal of potstickers and meatballs at our class.

Following our class I’ve been seeing bok choy everywhere.  I picked up some last week when we reinvented our Chinese meal at home with everyone and Piper and Otto were in charge of the “wilting”.  (By the way, what might look like plenty of bok choy at the beginning cooks down to an incredibly small amount of bok choy by the end.)

Isn’t it funny how that works?

A month ago I would have told you I’d never eaten bok choy.  Now I’ve paid money for it and added it to a Thursday night dinner.

I’ve been educated, you might say, in the ways of bok choy.  I’ve been introduced and it has changed me.

Sure, bok choy is a tiny change.  I’m not passionate about bok choy and I’m not blending it into smoothies or writing poetry about it or finding ways to serve it for breakfast.   I’m not obsessed with bok choy.  (Although I’ve now typed the word bok choy so often in the last few minutes that I feel a little obsessed.)

But my point is – I didn’t know something existed last month and now I’m incorporating it a tiny bit into my life.

I think that’s how education changes us.  How people change us.  How relationships change us.

I think that’s the formula for how we move from being closed off to being open, from being uninformed, to being educated.

We need an introduction.

Sometimes just a small one.

When we encounter a new idea, a new thought, we have the potential to be changed by that thought, by that idea.

(This change can be positive or negative.  It can even be a little neutral – like bok choy.  Not life shattering, but still visible.)

Tennyson once wrote, “I am a part of all that I have met.”  

I read that line probably two decades ago and I’ve never forgotten it.

People, education, knowledge, stuff, situations shape us and mold us and make us and change us.

Not only am I a part of all that I have met, but all that I have met is a part of me.

It’s what I love most about being so intimately involved in the education of my own children.  The front row seat to what makes their imaginations soar, to what new words they learn and how their knowledge propels them into new avenues and adventures.

Last month it was bok choy.  This month it might be the multiplication facts (oh, for the love, let it be the multiplication facts that stick this month) or it might be a phrase from a novel or the perspective of a new friend.

There’s a little mystery waking up every day to discover what will change us and find us, of what will make us and mold us.  Of how we will form and grow and morph and become.

How have you been educated recently?

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A Call To Support Marriages

 

I’ve thought about how to introduce this video challenge I am sharing today.

But I just can’t seem to find the words I want.

Valentine’s Day can be so cheesy – and this isn’t cynical Lacey or a jaded person typing.  I’ve always found the hearts and the cupids surrounding February 14 to be contrived and manufactured.

(I have, however saved one Valentine’s card from fifth or sixth grade.  It was a sniff and smell kind and on the front was an orange.  You can probably guess what lame joke accompanied the orange.  I have no real idea why that singular card has been saved all of these long years.  It was from a boy and he didn’t write a sweet sentiment on the back.  He wrote, “Why don’t you like me?”  You guys.  I have no idea why I didn’t like this boy.  I don’t even have any memory of actually not liking him.  In fact, I have zero memory of him at all except his name and what he looks like in our elementary school yearbook.)

That story was completely irrelevant.  My apologies.

I’m sharing a video from a dear sweet friend I have known for more than two decades.  We met in college and she’s been a soul sister to me ever since those days of Chuck Taylors and flannel shirts.

Parts of me really long to tell Mandi’s whole story, but it is her story and not mine.  I will say that she loves Jesus in a way that is tangible and genuine and influences her entire life.

Mandi made this video and created this challenge – an idea to pray for marriages on Valentine’s Day in a specific manner – and she texted me this link and asked me to share it with my friends if I wanted to.

Mandi doesn’t ask for a lot of things.  She offers a lot to other people.  She helps and leads and volunteers and coordinates and works behind the scenes and encourages and praises and fills people up.

So, basically, if Mandi asked, I was probably going to say yes.

She didn’t ask me to share her video here, but it only seemed right to put it in a post and to let other people do what they would like with it as well.

I’ll be joining Mandi and praying for the marriages of people I love – like my daughter and like Mandi.  Like my friends who are thriving and my friends who are barely hanging on.  I believe in marriage still, even though I am not married.  I believe in the picture that marriage paints of intimacy and service, sacrifice and honor.  And that’s really worth bringing before God, who also cares deeply about marriage and the people he created who build up and break down marriage every day.

 

 

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Five Finds Friday (two videos & BBQ chicken & a full circle story)

 

At one point in this week I was like, “What?? It’s only Tuesday?  No.  I have lived more than two days already this week.  It must be Friday.”  So now here I am at Friday and I think this week took two weeks instead of one.

What I’m saying is, friends, I don’t know how your house is faring, but it’s been a long week over at my house.  I’m pulling into the weekend with an empty tank but hopeful for rest at the end of this week.

 

 

FUNNY

 

You might think I’m the funny one in my family.

What?  Someone might think that.  I AM funny, you guys.  Sure, I have to verbally remind my children of this fact from time to time when they do not find themselves laughing as readily as they should at my jokes, but I AM funny.  Jane thinks I am.  (Although at dinner last week she admitted to laughing at me as often as with me.  Which, now that I think of it, feels wrong.  Nah.  Jane thinks I’m funny too.  That’s what I am choosing to continue to believe.)

Anyway, I’m not the only funny person in my family.  (And I’m also talking about my own birth family too.)  Actually – I definitely am the funny one in my birth family.  (Sorry the other brothers.  You are great, just not hilariously funny.  You’ve got other talents.)  Growing up, my only competition for funny was my older brother Danny.  He’s funny too.  And also, he was born with the great curly hair and this charming smile and eyelashes for days and dimples too.  It was really quite unfair and I spent a decent portion of my teenage years resenting how pretty my brother was.  He’s still a good looking fellow and he carries this enviable charm and schmooze around with him wherever he goes.  (Also – he has more hair on his face and head currently than he has ever had in his entire life.  He’s recently retired from the Marines and I think he is making up for all those years of being told to cut his hair and shave his beard.)

My sons think Uncle Danny is some sort of fishing demi god.  (Are there fishing demi gods?)  (Wait.  What’s the difference between a demi god and a regular god?)  Whatever.  Uncle Danny catches a lot of fish and Berg and Otto think that makes Danny the coolest.

My brother has recently moved to a home where his front yard is a lake and he’s spending literally all of his days in a little boat on the water.  Now he’s got a camera to keep him and his dimples company and he’s started his own YouTube channel.  (Which, is funny all by itself, for a man who despises Facebook and Twitter and all things social media related.)

Now you too can watch my brother catch a colossal fish on a lake, grow out his massive beard and say a cuss word or two.  (He’s up to 98 views you guys.  Make his day and add a few more.  Maybe you can even comment so the only two comments are not me and his daughter in law!  He won’t even know I sent you because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog.  Shoot, I don’t even know if he knows I have a blog!)

 

 

FASHIONABLE

 

This week I have had no time to consider fashion.

Well.  That’s not entirely true.  The kids and I did step into Mast General Store recently and as we walked up the steps there was a sign, glowing and calling my name and beckoning me forward.  I looked at the children, “Guys, can you just humor me for a minute?”  They all had a piece of candy from the barrels downstairs in their hands that I would soon be paying for for them so they felt more obliged to respond, “Sure.”

This sign, you ask, what did it say?

Frye Boots Half Off.

Half.  Off.

I did what anyone would do.

I told the employee my shoe size and tried on a pair of half priced Frye boots.  Grey ones.  Very tall grey ones.

The half off price was still $200 so the half off tall grey Frye boots still currently live inside their dark box at Mast General Store on Main Street, but I wore them for about three glorious minutes.

Also – my thirteen year old got a haircut and I think it makes her look even older and it felt significant because I remember getting a “styled” haircut around her age and it was a legitimate shift in the way I viewed myself so I guess this haircut reminded me that I better buckle up.  Here we come, puberty and teenage and hormonal fluctuations and stuff like that.

 

 

FLAVORFUL

 

Easy-peasy this week.

I”m not a broken record, I promise.  But Instant Pot helped me create a fast BBQ chicken that was quite popular at our kitchen table.

 

Photo from CozyKitchenCooking.com

Photo from CozyKitchenCooking.com

 

(Note to self: 1.3 pounds of chicken is not enough to feed my children and my son-in-law.)

 

FAITHFUL

 

It’s just cool how God sometimes answers secret little dreams you never even quite knew you had.

When I taught high school English in a little town in Virginia more than a decade ago, I had a special class of students who were dreamy.  They were such a great group of kids that I planned a gigantic field trip from Virginia to Flat Rock, North Carolina to visit the home of poet Carl Sandburg.  The students memorized his poems and stood in front of his home, reciting his words to the trees and the birds and the assorted guests at the national park that day.  I fell in love with Sandburg and his gorgeous home.

Then, years later, we left our Virginia home and moved just twenty minutes south of that incredible beauty of a farm, Connemara.  I started trekking my children up the hill on the trail by the lake to visit the farm and read Sandburg poetry.  We’ve hiked the highest trail half a dozen times and picnicked near the goat barn on oodles of days.

And this week we added another layer to our connection with this beautiful farm.

Bergen became a volunteer at Connemara.  A bonafide youth volunteer.

 

 

He was so excited and I think it shows such growth – a fellow who has spent years being afraid to communicate with strangers, and sometimes friends, requested the opportunity to volunteer at a goat barn and shovel goat poop and sawdust and meet and greet strangers.

And none of this was my idea.  Not a bit.  He requested it.  He reminded me to contact the coordinator.  He reminded me again.  And again.

I’m pretty thrilled to partner with the Carl Sandburg house in this way and to have more excuses to head over the mountain and to walk up that incredible trail.

 

FEELS

 

That weekend three of my friends and I drove six hours to Kentucky to hear Wendell Berry, we spent most of those hours together in the car.  We listened to a lot of songs and sang loudly and listened quietly and laughed about our varied musical tastes and shared favorite songs and important songs in our own personal histories.

Jo shared one song that I brought back to the kids and we have just loved. It’s encouraging and just the right amount of loud when you need loud and a little shouting too and I find it to be a kind of perfect “fight” song.

I looked at four videos for this song – one where they sing it on the Jimmy Fallon show and one that is the official music video and one for the NPR Tiny Desk series and this one with just the lyrics.  In the end I picked the lyrics only one.  Because the lyrics are good.  And because  the Jimmy Fallon one was too distracting with the one singer’s excessively high waisted green pants.  And the actual music video is a little kooky and I like this song and didn’t want to embrace the odd.  And the NPR one is just too long.  I’m always looking out for you guys.

 

 

“I could surrender but I’d just be pretending.  No, I’d rather be dead than live a lie.”  

 

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Hi, My Name is Lacey and I Have Some News

 

It was a little over a year ago.  Maybe eighteen months?

Sometime back then, in our provisions notebook that was a gift from hannaH when it was most important to look for provisions – and we’re still finding it pretty essential – I wrote these words down …..

Got a job at Travelers Rest Here.com.

And I did.  A freelance writing job for a local website that paid a bit.

Almost exactly one year later – both in November – I was presented with an opportunity to do something more than just write for the website.

Through a whole myriad of yeses and nos and maybes and timing and financial provision that can only be described as divine (and of which I’d be happy to share the more personal details privately and face to face with you) I moved on up from writer to owner.

 

 

It’s a little exciting.

I took the kids out to dinner (in TR of course – it was only right) to celebrate me and us and buying a business and making steps I never thought I’d make.  I own a business you guys!!!

I was a little more thrilled than most grown ups might be when I went to the bank to open a business account and I got my own business debit card.  With my business name on it. I high-fived myself because no one else happened to be around.  (Kidding, guys.  I’m sort of silly, but I did not actually high five myself in a bank parking lot.  Maybe I skipped to the car and grinned in a doofy way.  Also – I just typed the word doofy as a personal description.  Whatever.  I wore yellow shorts in high school and my son wants to keep every cardboard box we get to sleep in like a bed (even though he HAS a bed) and I still like to have dance parties in my own kitchen and I can call myself doofy and sling out personal high fives all day long if I want.  That’s what business owners do – am I right?)

Anyway.  TravelersRestHere.com is a website – the “official” travel source for our family’s favorite little town of Travelers Rest – and it features a blog with posts about the people and the places, the stories and the history of our town.  There’s a Town Guide for locals and visitors to figure out where to eat and where to sleep and who sells cinnamon rolls and where you can buy coffee.  We’ve got an events page and you know – just all the things you would assume a travel resource for a town should have.

It’s fun.  And it’s hard.  And it’s my new job and my new time-taker-upper.  (It’s the reason I’ve missed posts here and missed some sleep too.)

The order of my life is still the exact same:

Jesus.
Kids – raising and educating them.

But now I’m adding website owner along with writer and blogger and editor to the third place position.

The balancing act has been a challenge at times – and I am sure it will continue to be a challenge.  It’s still a mostly late at night venture for me because that’s when I can accomplish tasks.

It’s been so neat already though to partner with businesses I’ve long been supporting and with people I’ve already been working with.  It’s humbling to see bits and pieces evolve together from friendships and relationships.

You guys – my readers – have always been such kind supporters of all that our family has undertaken.  And although this job is certainly mine for now, it is truly still a family job.  The kids have been a great set of team players as they are occasionally required to complete their school work at a coffee shop while I conduct interviews and they are quick to pitch in and help with dinner and to ask encouraging questions and to give me all those high fives when I get excited.

If you have a hankering to lend a virtual hand to this new venture – there’s actually quite a bit you can do from right where you are sitting this very moment!

You can like the TravelersRestHere Facebook page.  (This helps increase our followers and our likes to improve our chances of being seen and enticing advertisers to partner with TRH.  It really matters — so thank you very much for taking the time to do this!)

You can follow us on Instagram.  (Same premise here of course.  And – we have really great photos so it’s a fun feed to follow. My friend Jane is working with me and lending her photographic skills to the team.  You’ve seen her work on this blog a lot.  Also – we’ll be hosting giveaways and goodies periodically.  So, there’s that too.)

If you’re in TR, visiting or living, you can use the TravelersRestHere hashtag when you take pictures in TR and share them.

Also – and this makes a much bigger difference than you realize – share the Facebook posts.

Visit the website.  (I put a link on the sidebar.)

Read the blog posts.

Click on the advertisers.

Comment on the blog posts.  Comment on Facebook.  Comment on Instagram.

Share the blog posts.

Subscribe to the newsletter.

If you are local – BE an advertiser!

Aaaaaand.  I think my list is exhausted.  That’s a LOT you can do and I’m grateful for any of those tasks that you take the time in your own busy life to do.

And –  one last one – I’m currently accepting all high-fives when I next see you.

 

_______________________

 

 

 

 

wrapping up before moving on

 

Goodness.  You guys have given me so much material to read and to listen to and to watch.  I’m really thankful for all of you readers.

That’s not just something nice to type.  For real.  (Or “for realz” with a “z” if that makes it more convincing.  It doesn’t.  I know it doesn’t.)

I didn’t ask all of those questions about divorce and remarriage because I wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings.  And I didn’t ask because I want to get remarried.  I asked because I want to understand.  

I love that there were different views and different thoughts and different stories and yet – AND YET – there was this common thread.  Yes, a thread of grace and a thread of agreeing that only God knows the heart – but also this lovely real thread of kindness.  You guys – we see so much junk on our Facebook feeds and so much straight up nastiness in the way people comment back and forth to one another and there was none of that.

So — thank you.

It really truly is possible to disagree, to agree, to not have a stinkin’ clue and to still be kind to one another.  (I’ll need to remind myself of this truth more often when I forget it in my own dealings with real life humans.  Because I do forget this sometimes.)

I have a lot to process.  I obviously never expected to settle all this within my soul on a single Monday.

And I don’t feel the need to settle all this in my soul in a single day.

And you don’t have to either.  (Not that you did.)

I have more blog posts to hit “publish” on but they all felt a little like whiplash after a heavy post like yesterday’s.

So they can wait until tomorrow.  Just like the laundry I meant to fold and the granola I meant to bake.

I rearranged furniture today.  It’s what I do sometimes when I cannot rearrange my life outside these walls.  It’s hard to believe how many different ways you can configure furniture in one living room.  But there’s a lot of options out there guys.  My TV is balancing on an old steamer trunk and I’m pretty certain that’s not the height of safety but I sold my TV stand before I sold my TV and then the kids got wind of the idea I thought of to sell our TV and they unanimously agreed it was a poor idea to sell our TV and although our home is a far cry from a democracy it’s not entirely a dictatorship either so the TV remains despite the fact that it’s leaning against the wall in our living room.

 

 

In other random late night news, my brother started a YouTube channel that has at least two people in my home elated.  One clue – the boys are the elated ones.  I think I’ll wait till Five Finds Friday to share the channel.  (Was that a teaser for a Friday post?)

 

 

Also, only one family member watched the SuperBowl.  Well, unless you count Riley and her family, and they do count, obviously, but I was particularly implying only one living at home family member watched the Super Bowl.  Also.  Maddox is having a sleepover tonight and I’m pretty sure he likes it here.

 

 

And now everyone that lives in my home should be asleep – including me.

Good night!

 

 

P.S. — Just one more time ….. you readers are genuinely kind and good to me, and that never goes unnoticed.  Thank you.

_______________________________

 

 

 

two heavies: divorce and remarriage

 

This will be an unpopular post.

These are unpopular ideas.  Unpopular thoughts.

(Although I care so little about being popular these days.  I cared deeply about being popular (or liked, or something) in middle school and high school – although you wouldn’t have known it if you were judging me by the way I dressed.  My lemon yellow shorts in the summer.  My hot pink plastic eyeglasses.  The long johns I wore under my prairie skirts all winter.  My horrific hair choices.)

You know what?

These issues are actually not just unpopular in our culture.

These thoughts are deeply unpopular in my own heart and mind.

I’ve been reading and thinking and reading again, but mostly I think I do not understand the Biblical truths around divorce and remarriage.  (Or I don’t want to understand them perhaps.  It’s hard to know.)

Go ahead. You can shut this page down for today.  Click back over to Facebook.  Look at cat memes.  I don’t mind at all.

I’m kind of uncomfortable typing all this up and putting all this out there – to be misread (or read correctly).  To be taken at a glance.  To be stuck in internet haze until eternity.  (Or a crash.  Whichever.)

Divorce.  Remarriage.

These two words are gigantic and absolutely pervasive and I am pretty sure most Christians just back on away from this topic because, let’s face it – it is TOO HARD.

I’ve thought about these ideas hypothetically for years.  But the hypothesis has been removed and the stakes are personal now.

Everyone knows someone – or IS someone – who is divorced or is remarried to someone who is divorced.

This is too big to tackle, right?

I mean.  It IS too big to handle.  And too hard and too tricky and too ripe for misunderstanding and for feeling called out or judged or for getting it all wrong – or maybe worse – for getting it partially wrong and mostly twisted and therefore creating more wreckage.

So there’s this disclaimer before I keep typing then.  

I DON’T KNOW.

(I don’t shout in all caps often here.  But I want to shout this one.  I don’t know.  I JUST DON’T KNOW.)

Here’s what I see so far in Scripture:

God hates divorce.

Divorce is “allowable” in cases of adultery.

Divorce is “allowable” in abusive situations.

Even under these dire and wicked circumstances, I don’t see a God celebrating or reveling in divorce.  I don’t see joy and pleasure derived from divorce.  I cannot picture the God of scripture celebrating in the brokenness of any marriage covenant.

And I think an idea we underuse in our culture today is the idea of separation.  I think there is strong Biblical grounds for separating.  For giving space for healing and reconciliation after brokenness.  I even think a couple could separate but not pursue divorce and do that in a way that could honor God.  (These would be unusual circumstances, but I think it would be preferable to divorce.)

Additionally, I use the word “allowable” because I also see God’s word supporting reconciliation and redemption even in cases of infidelity.  I’ve seen marriages made whole and couples restored despite terrible choices, through God’s power of healing.  What I mean is, infidelity can occur and divorce need not be the only alternative.

Of course, and often, only one person in the marriage is anxious to reconcile and there are obviously circumstances out of one’s control.

So then, divorce.

Alright.  So then, what happens next?

From reading the Bible with a straight forward reading, it seems there are a few times that the Bible deems remarriage post divorce as acceptable.

  1.  If the divorce occurs in the life of person before he is a believer.
  2. Following a divorce caused by adultery, the spouse not guilty of adultery may remarry if the offending spouse is deceased.

Now, this makes me downright uncomfortable at this point.  

But it’s what I think the Bible is saying.  I don’t like it.  It’s very heavy and feels rather constricting.  The verses speak of anyone who marries a divorced person as causing that person to become an adulterer.  That’s a pretty giant word to toss around.

I certainly have friends I highly respect that feel differently, that interpret this word differently.

I’ve long been a fan of straight forward translations and straight forward reading and interpretation of the scriptures.

I don’t even know what to do here.

Can a remarriage be holy?

Oh goodness.  Do you FEEL the discomfort in that question?  Can you taste it?

I love many people who are remarried.  I am related to many remarried people whom I love dearly.

(Please note: If you are not professing to be a follower of Jesus, this story is different for you.  If you become a Christian after your divorce and your remarriage, then I think the words of God would suggest you stay as you are when you first believed in Jesus.)

However.  If you are a Christian and you get a divorce …. what then?

What do you do in circumstances like mine?

Or what do you do in circumstances where you are the unfaithful one and you seek forgiveness from your spouse but they choose to end the marriage due to your unfaithfulness?

I DON’T KNOW.  (Sorry, I’m yelling again.)

Is singleness what you get?

I do actually want to know what you think.  Particularly if you love Jesus, I want to know what you believe and how you read these passages that seem to outline in relatively basic terms the general guidelines here.

(Obviously, and please know, that I deeply value the thoughts and ideas of my non-believing friends as well.  But for me, this is an entirely moral decision based wholly on what Jesus says about divorce and remarriage.)

I would sincerely love to hear from my friends who have chosen remarriage.

I wish I could see your faces and look at you with sincere eyes and you could see my heart here — it is my deep desire to not cause conflict, to not alienate, to not offend, to not bruise tender feelings — but to seek truth.  To be about peace and to pursue it.

I really truly desire this to be a gentle conversation and I really want to examine how we land on the interpretations of scripture that we literally base our lives upon.

Are you willing to begin this conversation?  I’m so ready to listen and learn.

 

_______________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Finds Friday (nothing here except Rod Stewart and rings that might fall off)

 

Happy Friday everyone.  (It’s been a good week – and a long week.  But a productive week.  And a mostly stay-at-home week which pleases my Stay At Home child immensely.)

 

 

FUNNY

 

Sometime during an evening of games and soft trash talk and bad jokes, some kid said some thing that made some other kid say “Some guys have all the luck” to which I responded, in a sing-song voice, “Some guys have all the pain.  Some guys do nothing but complain.”

(Which both ages me, of course, by making a reference to a Rod Stewart song and makes me wonder what on earth else is hidden in the recesses of my brain.)

Naturally I had to show my kids who Rod Stewart was and what 80s music was and I pulled up this terribly classic music video of Mr. Stewart singing with its classic video footage and weird and “edgy” graphics.

 

 

It is bizarre.

Otto watched for a few minutes and then wisely asked, “Can we stop looking at this person?”

Yes, son.  We can.

 

FASHIONABLE

 

I can’t decide.

I saw these little rings on Pinterest.

 

 

I sort of love them and I sort of think they’d be a pain to actually wear.

I’ve never seen rings placed mid-finger on any living human before.

Does anyone actually do this?  Or is it like the hairstyles of the women in the magazines? The styles that only look awesome because a wind tunnel is being pointed in the model’s direction during the photo shoot.

Would they stay on or keep falling off?

 

FLAVORFUL

 

Apparently this was the week for the Instant Pot.  Man, I tell you – I have still not regretted that purchase.  Again – it’s not so much the speed as it is the hands off cooking of the Instant Pot.  Just this week I’ve used the Pot to cook hard boiled eggs, chicken noodle soup, broccoli cheese soup, chicken fried rice and meatballs and sauce.  (The people in this house eat SO much food. I’m afraid it is only going to get worse.)

That’s the recipe I’m sharing today.

Meatballs for spaghetti.  Meatballs – easy peasy – cooked with the sauce in one pot with zero effort.  (Aside from shaping the meatballs.  But, you know.  The pot cannot do everything!)

Meatballs in the Instant Pot recipe.

 

Picture from hippressurecooking.com

Picture from hippressurecooking.com

 

FAITHFUL

 

The opportunities for one on one time with my children is precious to me.  And hard fought to make the time for those one on one events to occur.

Recently London and I took a local cooking class where we learned how to make all sorts of Chinese food.  Even tricksy little potstickers and rangoon.

 

 

It was such fun and she was such pleasant company and I am grateful for the ways I get a front row seat to watch this girl figure out some incredibly complex aspects of life and a handful of really raw deals that she’s been handed.  She’s thirteen and it’s beyond complicated, but she’s putting one foot in front of the other, she’s choosing bravely and she’s seeking good counsel and lifting her face up to search for that narrow path.

 

FEELS

 

I love the privilege of being around to watch my friends’ kids grow up.  It really IS a privilege to know them and to hang out with them and to have a relationship with them.  And – it’s fun.  I mean, aren’t we all cooler and more fun to the kids of our friends than our own kids sometimes?

 

 

I let all these kids up there in that picture help make our focaccia bread for dinner this week.  (Focaccia – a word I have apparently been mispronouncing all my life.  Whatever.  One of many mispronounced words.)

This week we celebrated one of our young friends getting her braces off.  And it was such fun to be excited with and for her.  (And to eat all the sticky foods that were outlawed before.)

And Otto wrote a journal entry and drew a picture of one of his buddies.

 

 

Friendships.  Sweet and true.  Right into the next generation.

 

____________________________

 

 

 

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