Power in the Pause: Merry Christmas

Whew.

Between Christmas preparations, home renovations, and growing a human, this season has been overwhelming and hectic for me. Rather than feeling joyous and grateful, I found myself withdrawing into a candy-cane-crusted ball of stress.

It all came to a crux last week. After four weeks of frantic shopping, cooking, cleaning, and strain, I desperately needed a breath.

So when I stepped out of the car at my office, I took a moment. I stopped in my tracks and was still, quiet, open. The bitter cold burned my nose and ears. The silence of the snow was deafening. Everything was foggy, frozen, muffled. Then, the softest hint of sunrise began to spill over the horizon and I felt peace wash over me.

Ice and snow

A soul needs these moments.

There’s power in the pause.

Change is inevitable. I know that the next year will bring the biggest changes of Dairy Man and my 3.5 years of marriage (as if moving to the country or starting a dairy aren’t big enough changes). But I’m in no rush. I’m trying to savor each step, each present moment, because I know they will never be here again.

Jersey soccer ball

So, if you’re like me and feel overworked, under-appreciated, and want to scream if you see one more unfrosted sugar cookie:

Take a deep breath.

Pause.

Allow yourself to be silent.

It’s going to be ok.

Remember that even if the green bean casserole is burned, you forgot to get a gift for your cousin’s brother’s girlfriend, or you ate yourself into a sugar coma, a tiny little baby was born in Bethlehem.

Because this season isn’t about perfect homes, perfect gifts, perfect meals, perfect milk production (sorry, DM), or perfect people. We are flawed. We are human. We need the redemption that Christmas brings.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  –Isaiah 9:6

I hope you take the opportunity to pause and soak in your own quiet moments this week.

Love and Merry Christmas, from our barn to yours.

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XO,
MFW

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30 Things To Do Before I’m 30

Ah, 2013, a squeaky clean new year. A time for renewed hope, motivation, and healthy eating habits. I’d like to think that our bovine ladies get into the spirit too, making resolutions to increase their milk production, gossip less around the water trough, or really commit to getting pregnant.

I don’t write resolutions, but I do like taking a breath each January to think about my dreams and goals.

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I was inspired to write this post by Sarah of Project Soiree and Mackenzie of Design Darling. But while these ladies chose to list 101 goals for 1001 days, I decided to take a slightly different approach. My non-mathematical brain couldn’t wrap around the idea of 1001 days (approximately 2.7424657 years), and 101 was too tall an order for a post that Dairy Man claimed “deviated from important things like manure and artificial insemination.”

Thus I landed on: 30 Things to Do Before I’m 30.

What I like is that Mackenzie and Sarah didn’t write “bucket lists.” Bucket lists overwhelm me. Of course I want to wine taste around Italy, trek to Machu Picchu with my sherpa, write a bestselling novel, speak French fluently, and get a jetpack. Who doesn’t? But these high, lofty goals can take a lifetime to accomplish. You’re talking to a girl who writes tasks on her to-do list after they are already completed, just to have the pleasure of checking them off. In red ink. I might even give myself a high five. I need to see forward progress. Otherwise I’m liable to give up on the whole thing and camp out on my couch with a quart of cookies n’ cream ice cream.

So I created a manageable list of 30. I hope to challenge myself, go outside of my comfort zone, and check items off this list over the next three-ish years.

30 Things to Do Before I’m 30
1-15 details
16-30 details

  1. Send 25 hand written notes
  2. Drink a large glass of water before every meal We do this faithfully. Bob would be so proud.
  3. Read at least one book every two months
  4. Visit our friends in Salt Lake City Accomplished in August 2013
  5. Milk a cow
  6. Take a girls trip to Vegas
  7. Try ten new restaurants in West Michigan (Currently: Perrin Brewing, Hoolihan’s, Brick Road Pizza, )
  8. Have at least one official date night a month
  9. Host a dinner party After reading this book, I really had no choice. My dining room table hosted an excellent dinner party for 10 of my girlfriends
  10. Go on an actual vacation with DM We spent a week in Salt Lake City visiting friends in August 2013 (see #4)
  11. See a show at Second City in Chicago
  12. Do something that absolutely terrifies me
  13. Go to five plays or musicals (Currently: Wicked (for the third time), The Sound of Music, The Nutcracker, Phantom of the Opera)
  14. Run the Fifth Third Riverbank 5K I donned stylish running tights and blazed through this race on May 11, 2013. 29:30 wasn’t a bad time for someone who didn’t train one iota!
  15. Spend a day with each sibling doing something they choose, paid for by me
  16. Say “I’m sorry” more than 50 percent of the time
  17. Talk to my grandparents each week via phone or email
  18. Drink a $50-100 bottle of wine (and see if I can tell the difference)
  19. Complete family photo yearbooks for 2010, 2011, and 2012 I’m all caught up and starting on 2013!
  20. Purchase coffee for a stranger behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru
  21. Create something with my Instagram photos
  22. Upgrade to a DSLR camera
  23. Teach Jersey a new trick He can high-five like it’s his job, but we’re adding other awesome things to his repertoire too
  24. Spend an entire weekend unplugged
  25. Refurbish an old piece of furniture
  26. Make a list of birthdays and addresses and send cards
  27. Pay off our student loans
  28. Find an active outdoor activity DM and I can do together
  29. Have a baby We’re expecting a baby boy in April 2014!
  30. Write a letter to myself to be opened on my 30th birthday

I may flesh out a few of these in the future (like the controversial “Milk a cow” – something another farm wife warned me never to learn), but I’ll simply leave you with the list for now.

So how about you, dear readers? No matter which ages you put in the blanks of “___ things to do before I’m ___,” what’s on your list?

A Typical Family Christmas

So, here we are. 2013.

The transition from an old year to a new one is always bittersweet. As I look towards this upcoming year with hope and excitement, I also recognize the closing of a chapter, the culmination of another 365 days of life.

Some things in 2012 happened exactly as I wished them to. Other things did not. I’ve learned lessons about patience, trust, and timing. I’ve felt fulfillment, disappointment, joy, and sorrow. As look to 2013, my heart feels a mixture of excitement and apprehension, hope and longing.

In the midst of all of these semi-melodramatic musings, I am left with one thing that will never change. My family.

Have I ever mentioned how awesome my family is? Well, let me tell you. They are awesome. Wicked, dope, sick, ridic … or whatever the kids are saying nowadays.

My family is unavoidably loud. We interrupt you when you’re talking. We squeeze a Seinfeld reference into nearly every family story. We don’t understand quiet people. We take the best annual Christmas photos.

It all started back in 2008. Up until this point, my odd family had managed to rein ourselves in for one normal picture each year. But 2008 was different.

Maybe it was something in the water. Maybe we ate too many frosted Christmas cookies with sprinkles. Maybe we were delirious with holiday spirit.

Whatever the reason, somehow the annual Christmas Eve picture in front of my parents’ tree turned into this:

08xmas

We’re still shocked that my face didn’t stay that way.

This photograph kicked off an epic tradition that is only five years old, but is already wildly anticipated by our friends and family on Facebook. What began as an impromptu bit of silliness has transpired into five people scouring the house looking for costumes and props and one poor grandma who is obligated to play photographer.

Though I’ve only chosen one picture from each year to show you, believe me, all of the outtakes are equally awesome.

2009 (the Christmas DM and I got engaged)

09xmas2010 (our first Christmas as a married couple)

10xmas

2011

11xmas

2012 (the first Christmas at our farmhouse instead of my parent’s house)

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Each year brings new joys, new levels of ridiculousness, and new participants. Jersey was thrilled to be included this year.

Though 2013 is a great unknown at this point, I feel so blessed to have a band of weirdos like this in my corner.

Here’s to a fabulous new year.

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