Tuesday, May 6, 2014

They.Have.Names.




Five times now I’ve cradled newness in my arms.  Limbs and bone and blood with bits of secret still clinging to its sides.  My eyes widened in awe, body still aching from the delivery, my eyes have beheld a glimpse of glory that words can barely encompass.  In four of these instances, the babe in my arms has been a girl.  A girl.  Four times I’ve held a girl child in my arms and blessed her as she was given her name and with that name she became known.

Today I’m thinking about another set of mothers...the mothers of Nigeria--our sisters who also cradled their babies, their 223 babies who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram leader.  They have names, y’all.  They. Have. Names.  

These are not nameless, faceless girls.  No, these are our sisters.  We are their sisters and their mothers; their aunts and their grandmothers.  We are their voices and their very names cry out for mention and for their worth.  They are not chattel.  They are not property.  

And so we pray again and again for the girls who have been abducted, but now we pray not only with a “You, God, know their names,” but with an adamant voice of many mothers and sisters decrying the injustice done and forever declaring their names again and again.  And with every repetition of these names gifted by their mothers in the moments following their births, we make them known not only to our own hearts, but to our fellow beings and we declare that they are worth finding.  They are worth fighting for, their names ringing out and daring us to not accept these atrocities as commonplace or relegate them to a tragedy that happens “over there.”  

Instead, we are challenged to pick up the heavy burden of injustice, shoulder it on our backs and carry their names as a prayer until they are found.  It is with one voice that we cry, “#BringBackOurGirls."

A list of the names of the stolen girls has been released. Would you consider picking one or two to pray for by name? You can view the list here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

my cupboard altar

Have you ever noticed that certain stores have a particular smell to them?  In some instances it's more of an odor that wafts out of the store and in the case of certain teen stores that cater to the young, thin and those suffering from the teen year indiscretions hits you like a brick wall and forces you to grope for your nearest gas mask.  My favorite store for both scent and content is Lowe's.  And there amidst the smell of freshly cut wood, rubber tires waiting to be christened on the blacktop, and other various building products is where I found myself.  


A quick text to my brother to let him know that hey, I'm at your work and I continued walking to the back of the building.  A few drains later, a look at range hoods, and there we stood staring up at crated cabinets.  I oohed and aahed and calculated.  The numbers raced through my brain and various possible combinations sprang to mind.  Too orange, too curvy, I crossed certain styles off my list while holding onto the one style that looked like it would complement my kitchen.  

After hauling them off the shelf I only almost ran into two inanimate objects before my brother relieved me of my steering responsibilities and dragged the flatbed to the front of the store.  We paid and walked out of Lowe's and y'all I couldn't stop smiling.  Over cupboards.  

Once upon a time I lived in a fab little house.  It was a fixer-upper and I had every intention of repainting the cabinets.  In my fervor to repaint them we had removed all of the cupboards and to put it simply, two years later I still didn't have cupboard doors back on them.  I didn't really mind the door-less cabinets, but they were definitely something that I wanted to fix when I got the chance.  My chance never came.  I left that house and started a new life--one fraught with more uncertainty and responsibility than I could have ever imagined, but every step of the way He never left my side.

My best friend is redoing her kitchen.  It's fabulous is all the ways a huge farm kitchen should be and as she rearranged the contents of her cabinets I said a little jokingly, "I'm envious of all the space!"  Nonchalantly she mentioned a blank wall in my kitchen that would house cabinets very nicely.  I agreed and went about my business not dwelling on the cupboards.  A few days later she offered for her husband and kids to come install the cupboards as long as it was before spring hit because, well, they're farmers and spring is busy.  I still didn't take her seriously, but there I stood a day or two after that in an aisle at Lowe's picking out seventy two inches of redemption.  

The last two and a half years have been rough.  The last year has been brutal.  A year ago I was in the middle of some of the darkest days of my life through which I was led by grasping at His hem and taking Him at His word that He still loved me and that He had already redeemed me...even in this I was always already and forever His.  These cabinets, these wooden vessels, they are just things.  They won't go with me to heaven.  They aren't even anything special in and of themselves, but what they symbolize...I said that they will be the cabinets I take off the wall and haul with me when I move because they are that important.  These knotty hickory repositories signify abundance...that God has supplied enough, not just to survive, but to thrive--that when we follow Him, He will not forsake, instead He will bless.  

Maybe I'm reading too much into a chunk of wood, but you know, quite awhile back the same One that blessed me with these timber receptacles hung on another piece of wood and I'm pretty sure that any altar, any relic, any thing that can make me remember even for a moment how much He loves me, how much He loves you and just how far He will go to redeem what is His is a thing worth exclaiming over....

Monday, March 10, 2014

marked productivity

You know that feeling when your laundry is all caught up and your meals are planned for the next week?  That elation when the kids' lunches are packed (full of healthy foods of course) and your to-do list is empty?

Yeah, me neither.

I pause for a moment before I flick the light switch off.  My list of "shoulds" is still ridiculously long.  At the end of this weekend I have four laundry baskets waiting to be folded and a kitchen that looks like a bomb went off in it.  I bought my kids lunch this month so I don't have to worry about the morning scramble of "What do you want for lunch," and "Did you remember your lunch?" (although last week, in an epic #momfail I thought I had ordered lunches and didn't.  My children were subjected to the horror of the school peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  They lived, though I'm sure they will forward me their therapy bill.

Even amidst what I didn't accomplish this weekend there is a plethora of things which did get crossed off.  Last week was a doozy, so I took extra time this weekend to relax.  Good food, good friends, more bananagrams, a steak dinner, and I even got my tax prep done for my most prominent (and detailed) job--I'd say the Saturday and Sunday were productive.

When did I decide that every moment must be spent in marked productivity?  One of my recent indulgences is watching a tv series again and one of my favorite lines is, "Just because you can't see things happening doesn't mean things aren't happening."  How true is that?  I'm reading a book on the couch and it looks like I'm doing nothing, but in the middle of the words and the rest, I'm rejuvenating to be a better mom, friend, and employee.  I've fallen into the trap of thinking that every waking moment, every task must have a measurable outcome.

I'm trying to step back and enjoy the moments.

Friday, March 7, 2014

anything not everything



Quite regularly we chat about what they want to be when they grow up.  What they don't know is how often that same question, "What do I want to be?" rolls around in my own brain.  So many interests to pursue and so little time.  So many good things out there and yet again, not enough time.  

What if I were to change my perspective, though?  I have the same amount of time as any other person, right?  A better perspective would be one of, "I have enough time to do everything that I need to do."  As do most complex thoughts, it looks much more crisp when captured by pixels instead of lived out by flesh.  

Many a time I find myself looking at an opportunity and thinking, "Wow, that looks like fun."  Just this week I paused, my fingers poised over a touch-screen keyboard preparing to tap-tap-tap my way into another group.  This group is fabulous and it was exploring an area that I have been quite hesitant to delve into because I.have.no.clue.what.I.am.doing.  I hemmed and hawed and by golly I closed the tab before I could fill out the form.  

I suffer from the want-to-do-everything-itis and the only people who suffer from this are me and those I love.  You know how when you go to an interview and your would-be boss asks you, "What's your weakness," and you fumble about trying to come up with a legitimate sounding answer?  My answer is that I consistently spread myself too thinly.  I allow myself to be pulled in so many directions that I burn out and a burnt out Kristina means a crabby Kristina which you can read as No Fun For AnyOne Kristina.  

That's where this fab little quote comes in.  I am more than capable of doing anything I want and chances are, you are too.  I am not, however capable of doing everything.  I can't be all things to all people even most of the time, nevertheless all the time. 

No, I must pick and choose.  

One of my favorite authors once said that for every "Yes!" she gave it meant she had to say "No" to at least five other things.  It taught her to be quite careful that her one adamant "Yes" was worth enough to say "No" to five other things.  

So here I am, making sure all my heck yes' are worth five times of "no way".

And here's to doing anything, but not everything.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

what I'm into (february awesomeness)



In case you had yet to notice, it's MARCH.  March, y'all!  I can hardly believe it, but since it means we are that much closer to June, July, and all the awesome of August, I'll take it.  Things have been busy around these parts...not the blog (obvs), but I've been busy doing everything that keeps me from blogging.  You know, the cleaning toilets, raising children, going to work stuff. Even so I've managed to have quite an enjoyable February...

my raindrops (on roses)

1. my monthly prayer journal from ValMarie papers *love it*
2.  Grape Ice Cubes - my favorite gum this month and I've even managed to keep
it hidden from the littles (score!)  Also, something about grape gum makes me feel twelve again--in a good way, not in the "i can't wait to be an adult way"
3. Tazo Zen tea - I got to fire up a Keurig for the first time and this was what I chose.  Wowzas!  The Keurig. The Tea. The everythings.
4. Burt's Bees Grapefruit Lip Balm - I'm a huge BB fan, but wanted something other than the normal "spicy" flavor.  In walks the love of my life, grapfruit.
5.  Sugar in the Raw - a good friend introduced me to the wonderfulness that is raw sugar
6.  Thieves Essential Oil - Oh my word.  I attribute our health this year to using this.  I love the taste, the smell.  Yum-o.  

This little lady began the month by turning three years old.
I still can't believe it, but I guess it's for real because I got the 
letter from her pediatrician in the mail saying she is due for
her three year checkup.

Zoning Out To:
I actually haven't been zoning out to these shows, but goodness, I've watched enough of them.  Normally I don't watch much TV/iPad at all, but this month I devoured all three seasons of Scandal like they were going out of style.  My best friend gave it to me as bestie homework so we could chat about it when we got together.  I'm forever grateful.  

Of course I also had to take the "Which Scandal Character Are You" internet test and yes, I did get Olivia Pope and yes I did take a screenshot so I could post it there (after sending it to aforementioned bestie and tagging her on it in Facebook so she could take it as well. My source tells me she got Olivia Pope as well.)

Playing: 

I've been trying to be more intentional with time with my littles.  This involves games for us because none of us can sit still.  

Dutch Blitz: I learned this game when I was young and recently started playing it again.  Love it.  

Bananagrams: Such a word nerd game.  I spent half the game the other day praying I'd pull an "r" because gosh darn it I wanted to spell the word "suffrage".  

Spot It:  I had no idea there were so many versions of Spot It until just now when I linked to it, but goodness, this is a favorite by far.  BY FAR!  

I had a major peanut butter craving and made this delectable cheesecake.  

At the beginning of the year I told myself I wouldn't buy another book until I had read ten.  Well, by golly, I finally finished book number three this month.

I think of this shirt on a daily basis.

This book looks intriguing and I can't wait to dive in.  No, I'm not buying it, I'm borrowing it.  The book challenge only applied to buying books.  I didn't restrict myself from library loans.  

Lastly, Leigh has been doing this Enneagram study-ish series and I finally took one of the test she recommended and found out that I'm a 1-9.  Go figure.  You?

As usual I'm linking up with Leigh over at LeighKramer.com.  You should definitely stop in and check out all the other wonderful "what I'm into" posts. 











Monday, March 3, 2014

when Bible study is out of the question

My entryway is rarely clear.  It is a conglomeration of jackets, boots, backpacks, papers and mail.  In the summer it is bad and in the winter even worse.  The previous owners crafted ingenious wooden covers for the radiators that spread heat throughout my abode.  What an eyesore, those radiators.  It is on one of these ingenious covers, the one to the right of the door, amidst my new insurance quote and the mismatched mittens that I found my Bible this morning...just where I left it last week.  In that same spot has it lingered, unopened and untouched.


"Make time.  There's ALWAYS time." I used to say.  But friend, I understand when there is no time and you are running and running and there are never enough hours at night and naptime is never long enough.  I get it, and yet my soul screams out from being like an infant left too long between feedings that it needs food.  It is starving and oh, but for a morsel, a scrap, a tidbit and it must feed, but by George there is no time and friend, I get it.

A much wiser woman than I once told me about seasons.  She explained how tomorrow will only resemble today and how two months from now will look different than today and just as the leaves turn and fall so will the grass of this life wither and fade, change and bend.  Only for a season will my time be so utterly consumed leaving my begging for a pillow and just a few more minutes in the morning.  It will not always be this way, but oh, my soul may not last that long.

And so each morning I reach.  I reach to my phone, first and foremost.  Not for Facebook or Twitter, not for my morning dose of Instagram, though I will confess to checking the weather reports, but for a few morsels, a smattering of delectable truth to begin my day and start it right.  You know what they say about breakfast, right?  Most important meal of the day and so I touch the screen and read.  Sure it's only five minutes, but it's an imperative five minutes, a necessary five minutes, a can't go without it five minutes and at the end I'm Oliver holding my bowl up asking, "Please, sir, can I have s'more?"

*****

Here are some of my favorite resources to keep my soul fed even when 
I'm being run ragged by life....


*this post does include affiliate links which means that if you purchase one of the items from the links, a portion of the proceeds will help support the wordsmithery here at kjtanner at no extra cost to you*

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Spotlight I Don't Have

Many an evening I find myself in the driver's seat of my van, greige (the weird color between grey and brown that is the inside of my vehicle) seat belt taut against my legs and chest, driving.  Often I'm returning from, many a time I'm driving to a destination about which I only know the basics.  "So and so is in the ER.  Text us once you get there and let us know what's going on."  Rarely I'll be told, "Go to such and such ER as soon as possible.  Text once you get there to let us know if and when you need a replacement."  Specifics are missing most often in my line of work.  It's enough to drive a type-A control spaz like me crazy.

I've driven in weather conditions that have proven the existence of angels and luck and all other manner of superstition. (I only write that half-jokingly.)  Low visibility, whether caused by a blanketing fog or a thickening snowstorm, is my least favorite condition in which to drive.  I hate only being able to see what's right in front of me.  I'll drive along my eyes glued to the car in front of me or the white and yellow lines (when I can see them) sputtering and mumbling, annoyed that I can't see further ahead.  My shoulders hunch and my muscles tense as I focus on just.getting.there. wherever there may be.



My dad had a spotlight when I was growing up.  With the flick of a switch its bright beam would burst across the darkness splitting it into pieces as it honed in on a specific point meters away illuminating it as if it were day.  So powerful was the beam that when I held my hand in front of the flashlight I could feel the intense warmth radiating from it.  My brother and I would bring it out when we were camping and explore the inky depths of the lake by pointing it downward off the dock.

I really liked that spotlight.  I want to pocket it and turn it into my magical spotlight that is both light and prophet.  You'd think that after ten years at the same job I'd be used to the inherent "I don't know's" and inability to make concrete plans, however I'm not.  Between work, kids, and childcare my life is a trifecta of "I don't know."

Every day I have to diligently remind myself that while my battle cry is "I don't know" there is a morning reveille that rings out, trumpeting truth that sustains, "I know" the voice rings out, reverberating to my very bones.  "My Word is a lamp unto your feet."  I am reminded, the beacon of truth illuminating the uncertainty that shadows my world.

My heart catches, skips a wee beat as I see that word, lamp.  Much to my chagrin, God doesn't spotlight my life and my future.  No, He is my lamp and we're not talking a modern fluorescent beam or a fluorescent bulb causing my path to glow for miles in front of me...no, a lamp.  An oil burning lamp, it's beam more wick-like inflamed by fire, its reach only the necessary next movement.  He tells me where to move next.  Where to put my foot next.  The path is clearly marked, I just can't see the markers until I'm right next to them.  That's where I must surrender to what I do know.

I have a lamp.

I must use it.

It will light my way.

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