Saturday, April 19, 2014

gratitude

I told you in the last post that I spend my days being overwhelmed with gratitude and that it's 100% the truth. And I've been rolling it around in my head.... and well, this is what I've come up with.

I'm no good at waiting for things. Generally speaking, I'm an instant gratification kind of girl. But it seems like because of that, the things I have had to wait the longest for are the things that I treasure the most. I mean waiting for children to grow in the womb, waiting as I save up for an item, and waiting for questions to be answered about life. All of it. And I feel like we are in a season of reaping right now... of watching dreams unfold and seeing longings fulfilled. Like owning a home.

Because of our time in the military, we spent years wishing we could buy a house but never being in one place long enough to do it. We longed to plant roots. To be established. To drive past an elementary school and tell our children, "That's where you'll go to school when you're bigger."  We wondered whether we would have neighbors that we could stand outside and chat with across the fence. We looked forward to the day we had at least a handful of friends that weren't leaving every year, and for careers that we could invest time and effort into as we watched them grow and develop. So for 5 years of married life, we waited for those things with the longing for them in our hearts.

And then we jumped.

Getting out of the military was a huge, scary jump that created more question marks than answers at first. And as we watched the dust settle around the new life that emerged, I knew it was good and it was what I had been longing for, but I was afraid to grab onto it and claim it. I was afraid it was too good to be true.

Have you ever felt like life was so good, so sweet, that it caused you to be afraid? Because surely all good things must come to and end, right? And no one can live in a perpetual state of bliss. And pity the fool who is caught unaware? That's sort of the place I lived this past year. We had a house that I was smitten by, but I guarded my heart so I could function from a place that didn't care too much about it. I was afraid that "anything could happen and we might have to move again, so why get attached?" And Jerr had a great job that provided a good life, but why enjoy that? He could lose his job tomorrow, so I might as well be prepared. And that just continued. At night I'd lay in bed thinking up contingency plans in case the paychecks stopped coming or the house burned down or tragedy came upon our family members.... And it was exhausting. During the day I felt like everything was fine and good, but at night things got scary and there was no security and I needed to make sure I was prepared.

Have you ever been there?

Man, that's no way to live. Definitely not what God wants us to do with the gifts He hands us. But I also think it's part of the process. I can say that it was part of the process and not the landing strip because it's not the place my heart settled to stay. It was just a stop on a journey of major life change. And I think when something comes to fruition that you have longed for, it's natural that at first it seems hard to accept. I think it's normal to spend a few minutes rolling it around in your hands, inspecting all the corners, deciding whether it's as great and as sweet as maybe you'd hoped it would be.

And so that was the season. The season that found me grateful, but hesitant to get attached. Actually, I think a lot of that was connected to our leaving military life. I hadn't realized all the security I felt in the life we had lived. There was a house we couldn't lose with a career that was next-to-impossible to lose, and so I just never stayed awake worrying about those things. So I think that was another part of the transition- living life on the outside of the comfort of security. Where government closings now meant we didn't get paid, and where a mortgage bill came regardless of life happenings. Last year life was good- just as good as it is now. But I couldn't enjoy it yet.

Now it's this year. THIS year I can enjoy it completely. And you know what? I think the best way to describe life is this: I'm determined to steward what we have WELL. We have a house. Who needs a place to stay? We have food. Who can I bring a meal to? We have money. Who needs help? We have time. Who needs relationship? What do I have and who can I bless with it?

I think I just got to the point where I was done worrying about how long our blessings would last; I decided that for as long as *it* would be mine, it was also mine to give. And the determination to hold my blessings with open hands became my new song. Because clenching onto things with a death grip takes so much muscle that it wears you out. And living in fear robs you of joy. And I was even tempted a few times to feel like God was surely going to take back the blessings eventually, because "_____ just went through ____, and my life doesn't have pain like that. So when is it my turn? When am I going to be taught a lesson?" And it felt like life was too good to last.

But then I realized that understanding of God is soooooo beyond flawed. And that is never the way He would operate. God doesn't give us stuff just so He can take it back and make us hurt. I look at it this way: the reason He gave us the parent-child relationship is to better understand how He parents us, right? And so on a smaller, flawed and human level, I can understand the way He blesses me by the way I bless my kids. If I want to bless Roman I might give him a ninja turtle costume. Because he loves to pretend and he loves fighting bad guys. But if I want to bless Liam, I'll buy him a big dump truck. Because he loves things with wheels. And because they don't love the same things, I don't get them the same things. And I didn't give them the toy in the first place just because I wanted something to take when I needed to "teach them a lesson!" I love them! I gave it to them because I wanted to bless them- because it brought my heart joy to bring them pleasure! BUT, when I need to parent them and teach them, I will do that. Still with love, though sometimes in a way that grieves them and makes them feel yucky. But only because it's needed, and not because it feels good and I was waiting to pounce. And the way I can best figure it to be,that's how it is with God and us, too. And that's the way it is with His blessings, too. It's not that we deserve them, but that they were given to us: to steward well and to revel in, and to use for His glory.

So I'm learning that when you can hold those blessings on the open palm of your hand, and you hold them out in front of you, fingers wide open, you can really enjoy them. You can see them, roll them around, and you can even give them away. And if all this rambling is too vague and you're completely lost I get it, but man...if you can get it then I'm just saying it's going to free you. It's going to open your heart right up. And the fear is going to flee and the joy is going to grow. Because when the hands that hold your blessings are open, you get the chance to really be grateful for them. And gratitude is a great best friend for joy. And when there is room for both of them to exist, there isn't room for much else.

And so I will continue to posture myself in a way that holds blessings with open hands. And I'll be grateful for as long as they're around. And no matter what God is, was, and still will be good.

Friday, April 18, 2014

a catch up.

I have eggs cooking on the stove so they can be decorated tomorrow, a hot cup of lemon tea cooling by my side, and the house is quiet because nap time is grand. So I can ask you- How ya been? :)

It's been quiet after the spurt of blogging for February, I know. That's because third trimester hit and I've been using nap times to NAP, and by the time evening comes I only know I need to find a bed. And stat. And so my usual pattern continues, and the closer I get to due date the longer the radio silence becomes. But here we are.

Hi. :)

So let's play a game of catch up, shall we? "How's pregnancy?" You ask. "It's good." I cannot complain. Partly because I have pleasant-ish pregnancies, but mostly because I am very aware at how much of a gift it is to be able to grow our family inside of my belly, and so the last thing my heart desires is to complain about the honor. So I won't. But for the sake of honesty I will admit that my ribs are KILLING me these days, I'm super tired and pretty fabulously grumpy some days. And I would be lying if I told you I weren't counting down the days until Henry can join us. It always blows me away when I think about the little guy that is going to join our world and be loved so intensely that the thought of living without him is equivalent to the thought of not breathing...and yet, sitting here right now, I don't even know him. That's wild.

I'm excited, though. I feel like life with two is incredibly sweet, and most days I walk around feeling like I've got the whole thing handled pretty well. That's not to be confused with "I'm rocking at this parenting thing"- what I mean is that I'm not overwhelmed by my job. It's totally doable and enjoyable and I feel like things fall into place pretty well. It's these moments I am taking time to enjoy an extra amount, though, because if experience has taught me anything it's that I won't have this feeling again for a year or so. And this feeling of successful maneuvering through days is one of the things I miss most about two months in with a new babe, when all I long for is a house that is run as smoothly as it used to be in the days of old.

Dear self, you will return here again. Power through.

Other news: Jerry is out of the intel world and into the world of business as of Tuesday. :) Same building, same company, totally different career. This is in line with his masters degree he has been working on (he is going to school full-time to get an MBA in Marketing) in the evenings, and he is beyond excited that he is moving into the career that appeals to him so much. Intel was a good transition out of the military and into civilian life, but it wasn't his heart. I'm so impressed by his bravery- it takes a lot to leave your comfort zone and a career that you love and leap into something with many questions and unknowns. But I married a brave man. And I love watching him go.

The boys are doing well. They are best friends and would be lost without each other, and genuinely love being inseparable until they don't, about 3% of the time, and then you can find them pounding on each other the way real brothers roll. It's all part of the game. But their hearts- Oh. Man.

I told you my ribs have been hurting, and that's kind of a massive understatement. Monday I didn't get out of bed except to feed children, and then to spend the afternoon in the ER making sure all was okay. (It is.) But during that time it was my oldest who made tylenol runs by his own offering so that I didn't have to move to get it on another floor. And it was my youngest who never sits still who spent HOURS by my side in bed, snuggling and tucking his feet into me so that I would be loved and comforted. You guys, being loved by sons is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and it makes my heart explode into little tiny pieces. It's a given that as a parent, I'd shoot the moon for them. It's amazing when that love is returned. I blame their dad. They watch their father and the way he treats me, and they copy it. That's the only way to explain the phenomenon that occurs when your 3-yr old notices that you don't have a seat and so he gets up to offer his own. Without anyone drawing attention to the fact that I had nowhere to sit, let alone asking him to surrender his cushion.

What men I have.

So when you ask me "How are you?" and I respond by saying, "I'm great. Life is good...." That's the real answer. Life is good. It is sweet. I love my family. I have more precious friendships here than I have ever had in one location previously, and that is coupled with being close enough to see friends from days past for important moments. And I spend my days being overwhelmingly grateful.

But that's another blog post. ;) Come back for tea tomorrow.

Monday, March 24, 2014

the day-maker

Today was Monday: grocery day. I have become an avid Aldi lover, so we always start there to get the basics and slide over to another store to grab whatever specialty items Aldi didn't have. It needs to be said that if you have never been to an Aldi, and there is one anywhere near you, YOU MUST GO!! NOW!!!! It's a sister company of Trader Joe's and can always be counted on to be found in the most ghetto shopping center around, but golly. The produce rocks my socks and the basic staples are so cheap you'll think it's a joke. I don't buy my meat or coffee there, but everything else is fair game!

I digress.

So we just pulled in, I handed Roman the cart-quarter, and I reviewed our plan of action with the boys: be good helpers, walk beside the cart, please don't ask for things that aren't on our grocery list. And for the love of all that is good, PLEASE DON'T RUN. And between there and the time he gets unbuckled, he lost the quarter. Twice. Three times. So I dig out the secret Aldi quarter stash in the ash drawer and explain that money is to be handled carefully and since he lost it that many times, he would have to wait for another turn next week. Mother translation: I don't have any more quarters in case things go south again, kid. Sorry.

Cue Lady Awesome.

She sees that Roman is distraught as I pull out our cart, and she smiles at me saying, "If it's okay with you, mama, I'd love if he got my cart out..." Shh! Lady, I'm teaching a lesson here. "...And it's been a long time since I've had little hands to help me with my chores." Dang it. So you want to bring joy to a sad little kid while reminiscing your days gone by, and I'm going to keep you from that privilege? Okay, fine. We'll teach the lesson of manners and thank yous today instead.

Lady gives quarter to kid. Kid gets cart. Kid smiles. Mother reminds kid of manners. Kid says "thank you." Into the store we all go.

Five seconds later, I have said "no" to at least five things, and Liam is in a dead sprint down aisle one.

Remix.

So I take a deep breath, and in the calmest voice I can muster, (Because kids are kind of like animals in that way. When you're angry and just need to get your hands on the little buggers, you have to let the pretend-sugar ooze from your voice in order to override the common sense that is screaming in their head, telling them to flee from danger and run for their lives!) I gather them quickly to my side. And there, kneeling on the floor on the right side of aisle one, and four feet into the door, we review our rules for the grocery store that day.

Take two.

Lady Awesome is now reaching for eggs as Liam grabs the milk and lugs it over, met by my celebration and encouragement. Meanwhile, Roman is giving himself props for getting the mayo into the cart like I had asked him. She leans over to me and quietly says, "Keep going, mama. I know it's hard when the days are long and it's inconvenient, but putting in the time now will make things so much better when they're grown. Remember, you're building helpers." I glance over through my tear-brimmed eyes to see her two teenage daughters standing with her cart.

Grateful, I utter some sort of inadequate expression of thanks and offer a trademark crooked smile.

It is some time later, around the cheese case, that we meet again. She approaches me and, in a hushed voice, explains that she and her daughters are buying some oyster crackers to feed the seagulls that are gathered in the parking lot outside. And, if I'm okay with it, would my boys and I like to join? Of course we do. We agree to meet over by the birds after putting our groceries into our separate cars, and she hands my boys the sacred bag of crackers to hold and bring over.

So I have the boys standing in the back of our SUV while I load the groceries from cart to car and barely finish explaining "Okay, boys, stay right there. I'm just running the cart over to the return and then we'll head over. Don't push buttons and don't hop out." And there, coming up to my right shoulder, is her oldest daughter. She hands me a quarter back and says, "I'll take your cart back for you."

Stunned. I am stunned. As if this lady hasn't already been kind enough, she has thought of every step I have to organize to make this happen.

Some people really know how to love on other people. 

It is among the flock of seagulls that we all meet up, passing the bag back and forth while making small talk with each other. We throw our crackers high in to the air and out in front of us, occasionally taking pause to laugh at small boys who prefer to eat many of the crackers that we expected would be in bird bellies. And we continue the dance until the bag is filled only with crumbs.

We exchange the expected pleasantries, me making sure my boys each look them in the eyes and say "thank you" and myself explaining how kind and thoughtful they were. And how much that made my day. She smiles and says, "I just really love when I see a mom with young children who is taking the time to do things the hard way- the right way. We are all in such a hurry these days, that we miss the big stuff. You're doing a great job, Mama. You need to know that."

And it was there in the Aldi parking lot that I cried.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beanies



I cannot stop wearing beanies these days. Call it lazy hair days, call it winter, call it love of an accessory- I don't care what you call it. I just know I'm going to keep wearing it! Leave it to this gorgeous gal from my insta feed to make me keep coming back for more... 









Sunday, March 9, 2014

fin

Well, I think we have reached the end of the beauty series. I think I have covered the topics on my heart, as well as the ones good friends have asked to hear more about. There are a few more questions on my radar that I may cover later, but I think this is a good stopping point.

So I just want to say "thanks."

Thanks for reading.
Thanks for coming back.
Thanks for hearing my heart.
Thanks for being brave. Brave enough to believe you are truly beautiful.
Thanks for the way you chase after life- trying to make each day better than the last.
You inspire me.
You touch my heart with the comments you leave.
You make my day with your private messages, exposing your struggles and trusting me with them.
You challenge me to keep pushing, making each of my days better than the last.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
I hope you know that by now. Like, really know it. Deep in your bones.


And so it is with this post that we go back to regularly scheduled programming. If you know what the heck that means, please let me know! haha

A post is coming tomorrow with a regular It's Becker Style blog post. But for tonight, I just wanted to say thanks. I needed the closure. [And for those of you who are wondering what the HECK I am talking about, you can do a search in the bar on the top left hand corner of the blog under the topic "the beauty series." There are about 8 entries there that talk about some stuff.]

Thanks, you guys. I sure do think you're great. 


Monday, March 3, 2014

i hope you know

You know this blog- and the instagram and fb page attached to it- is only a puzzle piece of the picture, right? One small, edited, selected part of the whole.

You know that the outfit my toddler is wearing was taken before the spaghetti sauce dumped down his shirt and the booger slid out of his nose and onto his lip. Right?

You know that story I shared when Jerry made me feel loved is totally true, but what you don't see are the times we are duking it out, working and praying hard so that this marriage actually IS as sweet to be in as it sounds like it is. Don't you?

You know that new sofa looks nice sitting in front of the window, but there is no picture that lets you see the time we have taken to save up for it, or the thing we didn't buy in order to get it.  I hope?

So why do I share these things? Why do I post pictures of the time I actually got dressed, when I am currently blogging in my sweats with no make up? Sweet friend, I feel like you need to know that I have no interest in being disingenuous. My heart isn't to make my life seem glamorous- in fact, I can assure you it feels like nothing of the sort. So why choose to share that thing?

Why do any of us choose to share the things we do?

I keep thinking of this quote at the beginning of the book by Donald Miller, "Blue Like Jazz."

"I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way."

I share outfits, room décor, and kid pics because I have a heart to inspire others. To help. To create. To enjoy. To create beauty in life around me. And because one of the things I love most in life is sharing things I love with others. Ask Jerry. If we go out to eat together, you will be forced to try a bite of that entrée I got at the restaurant that made me roll my eyes in sheer bliss, because I want you to taste something, too. If you are doing life with me, I will beg you to read the article that I just read and that touched my heart, because I want your heart to be touched, too. I will excitedly tell you about the amazing price I just got my new coat for because I want you to enjoy the sale with me if you need a new coat, too! You see... I just love living life beside people. I love savoring it.

I'm the girl who genuinely chooses to spend her time counting her blessings and not focusing on what she doesn't have. I believe life is beautiful and God is inspiring and our days should be embraced with a conquering yell in our lungs and wide-open arms. I believe life is sweet. It's a joy. It's a privilege. I believe in living with open hands- that the blessings I have may be counted a such, but to also be ready to give at the second they are asked. I love to look at the homes/outfits/food my friends [and cyber friends!] post to insta/pinterest/fb and be inspired by it. And so I add my "noise" to the bunch in hopes that others will be inspired and will, in turn, inspire me right back!

I don't believe a person's value is attached to their outfit. I don't believe a home needs pretty things in it in order to be filled with joy. I don't need validation from others to know that my life is an honor and a pleasure to live- I only pray I live it well. And I hope you are living yours well, too.

So if you have ever walked away from a blog post wondering if that's all I cared about, know that it's not.
If you have ever questioned whether I shared the picture of my home trying to impress you, know that I didn't.
If you have been tempted to think I use superficial means to define the worth of those around me, know that I don't.

I just want to suck the very marrow out of life. And I want to enjoy the beautiful things and precious moments in it. I want to celebrate the victories and process through the trials and remember the lessons. And I love to share them with you.

Thanks for walking life with me.     ----/--@

Friday, February 28, 2014

rules to wearing color

I've done a few color posts before:

But recently a girlfriend of mine told me she had all of my "closet top ten" items, but was looking to step outside of the basics, and was I so inclined to write a post on that. So, I got to thinking... what are the "top rules of color wearing?" I don't promise to be infallible, and we all have our own feelings on color, but I'll give it a stab. Keep in mind, rules are meant to be broken. And color is SUCH a personal thing, that you may completely disagree with everything I say. The beautiful thing about color/self-expression/style is that it's totally okay!! We all decide for ourselves what we find to be beautiful and pleasing to the eye. 

1. The color wheel is your friend. You know that kaleidoscopic circle from elementary art class? Get to know it!
Everything I've read about mixing color agrees that it's safe to use side-by-side colors or across-from-each -other colors. (artists: insert technical terms for this phenomenon here.) So blue and green or blue and orange are great color combos that you can be sure of.

2. Mixing tones of the same color is as beautiful as it is easy. Vibrant kelly green with a pastel green. Bright, kingly purple with a pale lavender. All good! You've probably played with this using a black and gray or chocolate brown and tan, so now just take it a step further.

3. Look outside. I find God is a pretty good user of color. ;) So if a fish in the ocean can be coral and turquoise, why can't your outfit? If a bird can be a lemony- yellow and lime green, why can't you? If an eggplant can sport the purple and green color combo, it's already been established that those colors are a good pair. So look at the food you eat, the scenery around you, and the creatures that move to get inspiration!

4. Any animal print goes with any color. Pick one of each and let them hang out! And when you're ready to take it further, the next step is to use the animal print as your neutral and pick another two colors to work with it. Or heck, throw a pattern in there, too! Like a blue-and-white striped long sleeved tee with a military-green skinny jean and pointed leopard flats. Yes, and a red lip....and a big statement necklace with clear crystals.... haha. Sorry. I'll come back to you. Look, all of that works, but if a leopard print feels dangerous to you, one color with your leopard flats is still a great plan.

And after having personally experimented with color the past few years, this is what I've started to realize: any color matches any other color. You can pick literally ANY two colors and as long as they each have a partner, you're good.

5. Give each color a partner.  A sure-fire way to make two colors look like they belong together is to invite each color to play- twice. Yellow shoes, purple jeans, and a scarf with both colors in. Or yellow shoes, purple jeans, purple necklace, yellow earrings. When we see it happen twice, we assume it was on purpose. Abuse Use that!!!! **The exception to this rule is a colored pant. In my opinion, you can wear a colored pant and not have to use it again. You obviously didn't accidentally choose that pair of pants, and it's such a large chunk of that color, that you don't need to see it again.

An example is my outfit yesterday:

 Why it works: See what I mean about the pants being enough of a statement to hold down that fort? I don't need more red to make them belong. (Though had I wanted to add it again, a red lip could have been the perfect way to do that. Eye shadow is also another great way to use your makeup to be the second dose of a color.) But if I had worn the blue shoes by themselves, or just the necklace, it wouldn't have been as cohesive. I think it's a more completed combination when the two blues have a partner. (I also love that the Stella and Dot Peacock necklace- haha! shameless plug- also has greens and purples. It made it a little more exciting.)

6. Stick with two or three colors. When wearing color, sticking with two or three colors max will prevent you from looking like a kindergarten classroom on legs. And to me, "colors" are any colors other than your black, white, tan, and chocolate brown. These are commonly-accepted neutrals in my book. **The exception to this rule is when you're wearing a fabric that has more than two or three colors. When that's the case, you'll obviously be sporting more than that. But I would still stick to drawing out only one or two colors from that pattern.

7. Walk like a believer and others will believe with you. That simple truth is THE secret to color mixing. Heck, it's the secret to dressing, period! If you walk around believing that you are wearing is a great decision, others will come along for the ride with you! You know that person in life that you've identified as the "fearless dresser?" That person who seems to be able to rock anything and look grand? You may have even told them, "You can pull off anything! I could never wear that." Well, here's a secret: they are probably just doing whatever the heck they want. But because their choice is flattering to their body, it looks good. And because they walk confidently in it, it works. The lesson: you can be that person, too! :)

Now, get out there! Go and conquer color, my friends! It's really very hard to go wrong.