lessons learned, 2013 edition.

GEG-featured-imageOne Christmas several years ago, my parents asked my brother, me and our spouses to each jot down a list of “lessons learned” over the past twelve months. After over a decade of lists and lessons, I think it’s safe to say it’s now a tradition.  I finished my list for 2013 just this past weekend, while visiting my parents to party in my dad’s 70th year. The birthday boy suggested posting the list to my blog. So…here are a few things I’ve learned in 2013.

Special-event outfits must be coordinated well before the day of said special event, even for five-year-olds.

I love the familiarity of a church-of-Christ building constructed around the mid-20th-century. Many of those buildings have a similar aroma and appearance (windowless auditoriums, red carpet, etc). It reminds me of the building where I attended church as a child. I like that.

If you’re in low spirits on your birthday, drive around town and share your cake with complete strangers…spirits will lift. Ask when their birthday is and watch their faces light up as they tell you…your spirits will skyrocket.

Suffering from chronic illness will do a number on your mental health.

Modern technology makes tracing your family tree so much easier.

Don’t trust a husband with a 100% wool sweater that isn’t his own.

If you turn on Animal Planet for your kids to watch, there’s a good chance you’ll be having some version of The Sex Talk within the hour.

If you’ve had a pair of pants for over a decade and you gain several pounds over the span of six months, there’s a high probability you’ll split open the back of those pants when you plop down in a bucket seat.

Tears of grief may wait years to make their debut. You’ll leave the town where you started the adventure of motherhood and visit several times before breaking into a sobbing heap. Weird.

Like most jobs, homeschooling has its hard and trying moments. But the more I practice, the more I enjoy it. I observe that the quantity of time Rowan, Skylar and Larkin have with each other is nurturing a bond between them. I love the freedom to visit grandparents or travel elsewhere whenever we desire. I have an eye-witness awareness of what’s going on in their daily lives. When there’s an issue, I can tend to it the way I prefer. I don’t have to get out in the cold to drop them off! I don’t have to interrupt Larkin’s afternoon nap for pick-up. There are trade-offs for sure, but for the most part, it’s working for our family right now.

Partly due to homeschooling and partly due to life circumstances, I’ve experienced an exceptional amount of solitude this past year. My friendships are fewer (though not non-existent) and I feel lonely…a lot. In the past I would have scrambled to fill up that emptiness, but this time I’ve tried to accept it for what it is. The space that’s opened up has provided me more time for reading, writing and general life reflection. To a certain degree, I’ve made peace with the loneliness. It’s a nice place to be.

One day your six-year-old daughter will put on a floor-length dress and you’ll feel sudden tears in your eyes because she looks so grown-up.

If you listen closely, your spirit/The Spirit will tell you the truth…about people, about life. Listening closely requires stillness of body and quietness of mind, both which are hard to pin down in modern society. It’s also a little frightening to sit and listen for what your spirit/The Spirit might be speaking. You could hear something you’d rather not.

I love having a niece!

The Tooth Fairy assigned to our neighborhood is a bit forgetful.

A room full of high school freshmen is what I would describe as “high-energy”.

The Willow Creek Winery in Abilene is an atypically lush, green spot shaded by trees next to a winding creek. It feels nothing like the rest of west Texas, and it is absolutely lovely. (No offense to the rest of west Texas.)

No sense in getting mad about the fact I don’t sleep well. Being angry about it just depletes me of energy and makes me even more tired.

If your husband is going to destroy someone’s trampoline, have it be the trampoline of affable, easygoing friends.

Anne Lamott will not personalize autographs.

Pink hair makes me happy.

Pulsing tinnitus stinks.

Inviting guests from various walks of life into one’s home for Thanksgiving dinner can make for some interesting dynamics. I like interesting dynamics 🙂

It’s so, so hard to move cross-country, leaving friends and familiar things behind. It’s also hard having two of your closest friends move away simultaneously. But I think the first is harder.

When writing…write for the Lord, not for people. If people like what you write: bonus!

Time does not heal all wounds but you can learn how to navigate life as a wounded being.

I thought I had arrived at a point where life – the things that happen, the choices people make, the way things play out – couldn’t really surprise me anymore. Surprise! It still can.


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