Every year since 2010, I have participated in a wonderful photo challenge called the December Photo Project. Can’t believe this is year six. (until I look back at the pictures and realized that the boys have grown so much!) Taking time to catalog this month’s pictures on the blog today to hold space for the memories of this month.
As a caveat, I have to admit that life feels WAY different this year. Working full time again (even in the same profession and grade level) has been very challenging. I feel like I am running on fumes many days and need to put my all into survival. I don’t mean to sound bleak, but it has been a true challenge to balance the many responsibilities of parenthood, teaching, supporting a student teacher and being emotionally present in my marriage. I look at the pictures from this season (below this post) and it reminds me that while I forgot to take pictures and post some days, photography and looking for special moments in the everyday is so important to me. Without making time for it and claiming it as vital, it doesn’t happen and I die a little bit inside.
So, as I think about 2017, I get a little overwhelmed. I know that today, though, I need to clean out the fridge, make a grocery list and meal plan for next week and shop. I need to make a homework planner for my students and create a new seating chart and get ready for two new arrivals to my classroom. I need to finish today’s suduko. Drink some coffee without cream. I need to tend to my own boys who are coughing up a lung or two and finish reading Lauren Graham’s new book, “Talking As Fast As I Can.” And….write thank you notes. So many thank you notes!
And beyond that?!? Well, there’s a lot beyond that. I know I should be goal setting for 2017. I am doing that with my own boys and with my students. But some days and years? It’s about taking the goals one day at a time. Doing my best to be in the moment and not just treading water. Below, I recopied my recent post in our church’s Advent devotional. It talks a bit about waiting. And being in the in between. And below that? My pictures from this year’s December Photo Project. I post all this with hesitation lest the filters of the pictures lead you to believe that my life is perfect. It’s way far from it. But despite the challenges and feeling like I can’t quite get my act together, I am feeling very thankful. Grateful for good friends, for the support and love of family, for the help of trained professionals and counselors, for books to read and reality shows to get lost in. Thankful for almost 13 years of marriage (Tuesday officially!). Grateful for work that is meaningful (even though it can be hard and overwhelming). And most of all, thankful that underneath everything….all the plans and lists and goals and to do’s…..that Jesus has come to release us from our fears and to set us free.
“Soon God’s promise to save the world will be kept! When the right time comes, God will send a leader from Kind David’s family, and he will be a good ruler.”
“Hurray!” shouted the people. “God remembers us!” The people were hopeful.
Jeremiah 33, Spark Story Bible
“I’m drowning…” I have cried these words to myself many times this fall as I embarked on going back into the classroom full-time after a ten-year hiatus. Some days the sheer volume of assignments to grade, curriculum to decipher, emails to read and respond to, meetings to attend and students’ needs to care for seem too much. Hope can sometimes be hard to grasp.
The decision to teach full time was not made lightly last June. Pro and con lists were drafted. Conversations unfolded over texts, phone calls, during walks and through emails. And time and time again, it felt as if God had clearly opened a door. And that door wasn’t closing. It was a promise of sorts. I can’t say it was God calling down from the heavenly realms, “You’ll be safe! I will keep my promise to you!” However, there was a clear invitation to step forward into the fear and the unknowns and the possibilities ahead with a deep knowledge that God remembers me. That I wouldn’t be forgotten. I, like the Israelites, felt hopeful.
And I still DO feel hopeful. But living in the place of waiting, being fully present during the times that aren’t easy, can be hard. We live in a state between “HURRAY! GOD REMEMBERS US!” and “When is God going to show up with that promise?!?” And often, it can feel very lonely, almost like the Israelites’ exile.
Slowly, but surely, God is teaching me a lesson about how I am waiting. Am I in a place of hope-filled waiting? Or angst-filled waiting? Waiting filled with anger? Or waiting filled with expectation? Am I eying my own “chocolate chip cookie” or “LEGO” completely missing out on what is right in front of me?
Can we, like the Israelites, wait? All the while, preparing for a new reality, a new normal to come? What word of hope do we need to hear this Advent? Jeremiah spoke to the Israelites, but his words are God’s message of hope to us, too — God’s promise will be kept because God is faithful. In the midst of our own forms of exile when we feel alone or forgotten, how will we wait? What word of hope do you need to hear today?
Come, O Long expected Jesus,
born to set your people free.
From our fears and sins release us;
Christ in whom our rest shall be.
You, our strength and consolation,
come salvation to impart;
Dear desire of many a nation,
joy of many a longing heart.
Self imposed time out. Steadily checking off the to do list to enter into this last week before break with some semblance of order. This still means dinner hasn’t been started. Husband is out at a church event. Dog is frantically shaking after a medicine bath which nearly killed us both. Kids are running outside in the dark singing Carol of the Bells and I have yet to plan my math lesson on liters which scares me. But I am sitting down on my bed and taking some deep breaths for two seconds. Advent. Calm. Sanity. These states of mind and being are out there somewhere….. maybe on the other side of a Wednesday field trip, building candy houses with 50 kids, and finishing animal reports! 😂😂😂😂
Only pic I took today but a lovely way to start the day. Sweet rolls and candlelight to celebrate St Lucy’s Day. And then dinner out tonight at Les Caves with Drew’s amazing teacher…Cheryl Graham. A day of light indeed. ❤️ #dpp2016
OSU ladies basketball game! ❤️
Best student teacher around. Love you, @eap711 !!! ☃️❄️️🏀❤️☃️❄️🏀❤️
Someone’s having a Lorelei Gilmore snow moment….❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️
Snowman! ☃️❄️️☃️❄️️ #dpp2016
Past Year Posts
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 were all daily posts. If for some reason (hahaha), you’d like to see the posts, just scroll back to December for each year.
In case you want to know more about the December Photo Project, click on the link below. I truly love this tradition every year!