Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

Navigate / search

I Loved Fall Before Pumpkin Spice Lattes Were a Thing

Make room on the bandwagon, y’all.  Snuggle up to the person beside you because fall is here and it might break the internet.

But here’s the thing:  It is 60* OUTSIDE, and I do not care how predictable or overdone you find it, I am hopping on this bandwagon SO HARD.

In the interest of full disclosure, here is what you can expect from me in the coming months.

I will post a picture of my inaugural Pumpkin Spice latte.  Please do not send me links regarding the chemicals in my pumpkin spice latte.  They are delicious, fall-flavored chemicals, and I have made my peace with them.  In fact, when I go into Starbucks, I am going to say, “I would like a tall pumpkin spice latte, extra whip cream, extra chemicals, please.”

I will, at some point, post a picture of boots. (They have an Aztec pattern on them, #sorrynotsorry.)

I will post at least one status about the weather.  It will reference one of the following:

-Drinking tea outside under a blanket after the kids go to bed
-Twinkle lights on my porch
-Open windows
-The ability to breathe

I will mention my love of blazers and over-sized sweaters, which I will be wearing every day between now and next March when the South gets all South-y again.

I will tell my hair stylist to “lean red.”

If you are not on the fall bandwagon, we can still be friends because I am open minded like that.  But if you will, allow me to describe for you what fall feels like down here below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Let’s start with summer in the South.  Summer in the South, unlike the beginning of every John Grisham novel would lead you to believe, is not slow or charming or sitting in front of oscillating fans while sipping beaded glasses of sweet tea.

Summer in the South is leaving a cooler in the back of your car because the heat will spoil your diary products on the way home from the grocery store.

Summer in the South is eliminating red, pink, green, orange, blue and “athletic gray” from your wardrobe because they show your back sweat.

Summer in the South is back sweat at 8:00 am.

Summer in the South is 95% humidity.  Let me help you make sense of that number.  Imagine how it feels to wear wet jeans and socks.  Now imagine that the wet jeans and socks are your skin, and that you are trapped in the wet jeans and socks and cannot take them off.  That is what 95% humidity feels like.  It is like standing in a sauna, where the air is so saturated with water that it beads and rolls down your arms when it makes contact with your skin.  You may have inferred that public nudity is frowned upon down here in the prim and proper, manner-loving South, so we have to endure the inescapeable outdoor sauna in every direction forever while wearing bras and underwear and pants.  It is intolerable cruelty.

Summer in the South is “we don’t go outside between the hours of 12 and 4 pm.”

Summer in the South is “start your car 10 minutes before you leave so that the baby doesn’t get heat stroke when you put her in the car seat.”

Summer in the South starts in April and lasts until the end of September.  That’s 50% of the year.

Summer in the South is not quaint; it is oppressive.

Imagine this:  You have endured a string of unending outdoor-sauna days through June, July, and hell August, when one morning you open your door and you can breathe.

Deeply.

The mugginess has given way to a crispness that wakes up your brain.  It feels as if the little pockets of alveoli at the bottom of your lungs were in hibernation- airless, suffocated, stale – and with that first deep breath of clear, fall air, they are filled again.  It is invigorating.

Fall after a southern summer feels like a breeze after years of stagnant air.  It feels like an invitation to go outside again.  Like a whiff of peppermint.

That’s why we love it.

That’s why I love it.

I also happen to enjoy pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin lattes.  I like Halloween parties and Thanksgiving dinners and football, amen.  I like scarves and boots and sweaters, the floppier the better.  But I don’t think I like them in their own right (except for pie), I like them because they accompany the glory of fall.

It’s like my endorphines are so happy-clappy and cracked out on the 60* weather that everything that happens in this season is automatically my favorite.  Science.  I love fall because of science.

And so, friends, let’s go revel outside with our kids and our pets and our invigorated lungs.

Pumpkin spice cheers,
Kate

What’s your favorite thing about fall?  Go!

Enough

Two friends sent this short video to me within hours of each other, which tells me that:

1. They are good friends who know me.
2. It’s probably great.

I watched it last night and it IS great.  Here’s why.

We’ve been fighting beauty with beauty and it’s not working.

We got fed up with the media’s painfully narrow definition of beauty (rightly so), and we fought back with “No, my CURVES are beautiful. My freckles are beautiful.  My natural hair is beautiful.  My dark/fair skin is beautiful.  My laugh lines are beautiful.”

This was also good, but the thing about it is – at the end of the day we’re all still squabbling about physical beauty. We are fighting beauty with beauty and no one seems to be stepping back and asking the question, “What if becoming (or remaining) physically beautiful is NOT THE POINT?”

What if WHO CARES?  What if we don’t have to be glorious and awesome – we can just be enough and GET ON WITH OUR LIVES.

The thing is, we don’t want to be Enough; we want to be Awesome.  That’s our problem and we’ve got to get over it before it kills us.  My favorite Pinterest discovery of late is a little quote that says,

“Mother Teresa didn’t worry about her thighs. She had sh*t to do.”

Yes. Let’s get on with being brave and compassionate and loyal and kind and living a life brimming with love – just absolutely spilling over with heavenly kindness and affection and passion and purpose.

Pretty is good, pretty is of God, but pretty’s not the point.

So I LOVE THIS. Because it stops fighting beauty with beauty. It stops crying “Pretty!” and starts crying “Enough!” It praises hard work and self-sacrifice and love and all the other things that make a person lovely. The stuff on the inside that somehow shines out of our faces without our even having to contour them with a highlighting stick.

So you should watch this. And while you appreciate beauty (it is a gift, after all), try to remember that it’s not really the point. Enough is enough.

YouTube Preview Image

Stream of Consciousness From the Beach

We drove to the beach yesterday and here is what I want to tell you about it.

You know what’s more fun than merging onto the beltline in the rain on a Monday morning?

Everything.  Everything is more fun than that.

But there was this wonderful, glorious moment:  Just as the caffeine hit my veins, the traffic cleared, and the rain let up – I saw a sign for the beach.  It all converged into this one hopeful moment, and then AS IF ON CUE Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” came on the radio and I went from this…

to this:

.

I did not become an adorable Korean man.  It’s a metaphor.

In related news, season 4 of The Walking Dead comes to Netflix on September 28.  I will most certainly resume my live-texting (because I don’t want to annoy you with Twitter) of my Walking Dead thoughts to my friend Cindy, like a less public and less profane (mostly) Muggle Hustle.  My phone will auto-correct CARL to all caps because I’m always mad at him for being an idiot, and DARYL to all caps because I’m always in love with him for being precious.

Back to the beach.

This place is the best.  It’s 100% lovely and kid friendly, and to be both of those things at once is no small feat.

There is a little tiny room with windows on three sides, flooded with light,  and puffy love-seat – the perfect morning nook.  Its a coffee nook, silence nook, book nook, or prayer nook.   It’s an all-of-the-above nook.

The art on the walls is by a little boy named Henry.  I walked in and saw my son’s name written shakily in watercolor, framed and matted and I thought, “This is the place for us.  Thank you, thank you.”

Guys.  THERE IS A TRAIN TABLE.  It’s like a Barnes & Noble kids section up in here.  Glory.

There is no kitchy beach decor.  Only white walls, natural light, giant floor pillows, starfish perched on the windowsills, big, bulbed lights strung over the porch, and a yard full of palms.  I want to stay forever.

I took the kids to the ocean yesterday evening, even though the sky was threatening rain, because the beach is home base.  Vacation doesn’t feel real until you see it.  We needed to touch base.

My kids ran headlong into the waves, fully clothed, and they squealed and screeched and laughed and splashed and rolled around.  Unbridled joy.  Sam stood knee-deep in surf, balled up his little fists and shouted, “Come on, waves! ” as he punched the air with his twiggy little arms.  A three-year-old version of “Come at me, bro.”

They woke up at 6:30 am because their circadian rhythms suck, but I made coffee and didn’t yell, so, victory.

 

Signing off to breathe it all in.
Kate

You Have Everything You Need

I am speaking at a parent’s retreat weekend this month, and I wanted to share this little excerpt of one of my sessions, because I think some of you might need to hear it.

I remember my first Superbowl party after Madeline was born; she was one month old and we had some friends over to watch the game.

I remember one particular moment.  I looked around the room, saw only myself, my husband, and our friends (all of whom were also in their early twenties), and I panicked.   I thought, “Where are all the grown ups?  They’ve left us with a baby!”

Next I realized that, even if there were “grown ups,” they would still defer to me, because I was mom.

In that moment I felt flush with fear and deeply okay at the exact same time.

I was afraid because I didn’t know what was going to happen.  Was she going to cry?  Was she going to get hurt?  Was she going to sleep?  Or refuse sleep? Was she going to gag on her own spit or choke on her own tongue?  Were we going to have to go to the hospital and pretend like we were parents who knew what the heck we were doing?  I was afraid because I didn’t know what was coming, and I knew that whatever it was – I was going to have to walk through it.  It was on me.  It was like standing in front of a closed door, knowing that when you turn the handle, whatever is back there, it’s yours to deal with.  That’s scary.

The unknown is some scary business.

But I also felt okay.  I felt okay because I knew that there was nothing I would need that I didn’t already possess.

If she needed to eat, I had milk.  If she needed to sleep, I had mom-arms.  If she needed comfort, I had my own breath and skin and heartbeat, which were home to her.  If I needed help, I had my husband and my friends.  If I needed answers, I had Google.  If I needed a miracle, I had prayer.

I had fear because I didn’t know what was coming.
But I also had courage – because no matter what the unknown turned out to be, I had everything I needed inside of me already.

I have since learned that this is all of parenting.  It is, in fact, all of life.

I want to be very clear that this isn’t a message of self-sufficiency.  This is a message of God-sufficiency.  It’s the same reason I can say, “I’m enough!  You’re enough,” even though we’re not enough at all.  We are enough for God to love and save and redeem and use, though.  Our not-enough is enough.  His acceptance makes us enough.  His work on our behalf is enough.

Similarly, we have everything we need because we have Him.

And if you don’t yet believe – if you don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus – you have everything you need in order to begin one.  He requires nothing, only everything.  Just you.  You as you are, no more, no less.

You are not enough, but that’s enough.
You have nothing, but you have everything you need.

God’s love is big enough to fill the difference.
He created everything out of nothing.  In the same way, He makes your nothing everything you need.

Christians are like seeds.  We have everything we need for our perfect sanctification inside of us already, it just hasn’t matured yet.  But it’s in there.  It’s in there because Christ is in there.  It’s in you.

(source: There is an oak tree in there!  A GIANT, STRONG, TOWERING OAK. That seed contains every single thing it needs. The oak is inside of that seed!  It just needs time and the proper circumstance – like you )

So it is with parenting as it is with all of life.

We are scared all the time because we don’t know what’s going to happen, ever.  But we can also have this blessed assurance:  No matter what happens, I have everything I need inside of me already.

This is the human experience.  We have fear and courage, nothing and everything.
It is enough, and it is good.

 

Two Hot Dogs

I had an existential moment in the parking lot of Char-Grill this afternoon and I need to tell you about it.

Existential may be a stretch.  But it was definitely a moment.

I left the house feeling very fly today, as I usually do.  Not leave the house – I usually don’t do that.  But I have high self-esteem that defies things like logic and reality, so when I do leave the house, I feel confident doing it.

I later noticed, courtesy of a store’s window front,  that my outfit was not doing all the nice things for me that I thought it was doing.  My shirt was puckering and sagging weirdly and it was making me look as svelte as a snowman.  This happens all the time. Reality’s a drag.

It was too late to do anything about it – I was out for the day – and I needed to grab lunch and get back to work.   What I wanted was 2 hot dogs with ketchup from Char-Grill.

But then I thought, “I can’t go in there and order TWO HOT DOGS looking like this.”

I spent fifteen minutes sitting in my car, racking my brain for:

-A place with healthy food that was close enough.
-A place with healthy food I could afford.
-A drive-thru where I could order food without having to get out of the car and show people my midsection.

I came up blank, so I was forced to re-evaluate the precepts upon which I was operating.

  1. I need lunch.  (True.)
  2. I want two hot dogs from Char-Grill. (True.)
  3. My clothes are being dumb. (True.)
  4. I cannot get two hot dogs from Char-Grill because people will see my frumpy self and think things like “Maybe she wouldn’t look so frumpy if she didn’t eat TWO HOT DOGS for lunch.”  (FALSE.  Sound the alarms! **this is faulty reasoning**)

I realized that I did not feel guilty about wanting two hot dogs.  I didn’t think that two hot dogs would break my diet.  I know that two hot dogs are not indicative of my eating or my health habits.  I felt very comfortable eating two hot dogs for lunch.  I owned that desire (and the action) without a trace of shame.  If I’d hesitated for health or financial reasons, I would have chosen differently, but that wasn’t the case.

The reason I didn’t want to eat two hot dogs is because I didn’t want people to SEE ME eating two hot dogs.

IS THAT NOT THE DUMBEST THING YOU’VE EVER HEARD?

Because who cares?

In my book I wrote a whole chapter about how it’s fine to care what people think about you – good, even – but you have to know whose opinions to listen to and when, because all opinions on all matters are not equal.  Exhibit A:  Strangers in Char-Grill making passing judgments (which they will forget in 10 seconds) about my health because I ordered 2 hot dogs for lunch DOES NOT MATTER EVEN A LITTLE BIT.  Not even a smidge.  Zero significance.  It does not deserve fifteen minutes of deliberation and body shame that I will never get back.  Oh my gosh, Kate, just eat the blame hot dogs.

So that’s what I did.

I marched myself into Char-Grill and I ordered two hot dogs with ketchup.  And when the dude called out my order into the microphone, “TWO HOT DOGS WITH KETCHUP AND A LEMONADE,” I stepped forward and said, “YEAH, THOSE ARE MINE.”

And I walked to my car and enjoyed every delicious bite.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Happy Friday!

(source: DesignLoveFest, like almost every other image that I love)

Holiday weekend, y’all!

Here’s a few things:

1. I plan on wearing my white skinnies after Labor Day and I don’t really care whether or not it’s kosher, because it’s still one million degrees here and I do as I please.

2. This won’t be a social media free weekend, it will just be a social media LESS weekend.  I’ll still post my #29nicethings updates, and probably a #sundayconfession.  If you don’t follow me on Instagram, you should just know that that’s where a lot of the action goes down.

3. The giveaway for the mason jar tumblers is open until 8:00 tonight.  You should enter here or here.

4. This weekend/week/ish I am working on the sessions that I’m leading for a parents respite/retreat shebang in Georgia next month.  I’m so excited about it.  I get to share a part of my story that I’ve never spoken about publicly before, and I get to work through the acronym B.R.A.V.E., which stands for “Beautiful, Real, Amazing, Valuable, Enough.”   In case you are having trouble reading between the lines:  I get to talk about beauty.  Not female beauty, or all shapes and sizes beauty, but all-over-the-world-beauty – in creation, in love, in forgiveness, in bravery, in gratitude, and in the faces of children-beauty.

And I get to talk about REAL.  Mercy.  I can’t even.

And enough.  And bravery.

It’s going to be good.

Happy Labor Day weekend, and happy Friday, folks!
Love to you,

Kate

On Ripening

When I leave a peach on my counter for too long, it gets all soft and smushy.  It leaks a little.
When I leave a clementine on my counter for too long, it shrivels up until it’s as hard and dimpled as a golf ball.

When fruits age, they either get really hard or really soft.

I think the same is true of people.

When I was in high school, I learned that one of my best friends’ parents were getting a divorce.   When I heard the news,I hit my bedroom floor with my knees and I started praying for him.   I prayed for a lot of stuff that I can’t remember, but there is one bit that I do.  I prayed, “Please let him draw closer to You, not further away.  Please use this hurt to help him depend on You, and to find You faithful – instead of causing bitterness.”

I begged “Close, not far.  Love, not hate.  Soft, not hard.”

Because people who suffer become either very soft or very hard, and I didn’t want my friend to become hard.

The thing is, we all suffer.  So we all become (at varying paces) very soft or very hard.

The longer we live, the more hurt we experience.  That’s just the truth of it.   The longer we live the more joy we experience, too.  We’re all in this together!  New mercies each morning!  There is glorious hope!   As Glennon Melton says, “Life is forever tries.”  But we don’t get to cut out hurt, I’m sorry to say.

So as we age in this beautiful, glorious, hope-filled, unjust, hellish world, we ripen, like fruit.

I want to age into softness, not hardness.  I want to be the peach.  I want to be the kind of person that makes other people feel safe and important in my presence.  Not for my glory – Lord, no.  But because people ARE important, and I want to be the kind of person that reflects that back to them.  I want to listen to people so softly, with such tender sincerity, that they feel heard.  I want to allow myself to be moved and taught by  people.  I don’t want to play the devil’s advocate.  I want to play Jesus.   I want all the things my eyes have seen to make me accept more, not less.

This kind of soft doesn’t mean mousy or wimpy.  It just means gentle, able to be affected – okay with leaking a little bit from around the eyes.

Listen, I am so far from this kind of soft.  I haven’t ripened enough yet.  But I am praying for myself the same thing that I prayed for my friend all those years ago:

“Close, not far.  Love, not hate.  Soft, not hard.”

Stop Taking Advice Meant For The Other Side

I am trying to stop taking advice meant for the other side.

That’s the best way I know how to articulate this human phenomenon I’ve observed:  we are all taking advice meant for the other side.

What I mean is, people who are natural fighters read an article about perseverance and “good things come to those who hustle” and they think, “Yes, I should fight more.”

People who are natural fleers (or at least natural pause-ers and analyzers) read about planning, or about learning to say “no,” and they think, “Yes, I should consider this longer.

Fighters take advice intended to balance natural fleers; fleers take advice intended to balance natural fighters.

We do it in everything.

Consider relationships.

Married people are taking dating advice and dating people are taking married advice.

This means that married people are punking out on their marriages because they want their spouse to be a “perfect match” and they’re obsessed with their own happiness and fulfillment.

And dating people are ignoring red flags right and left and staying in relationships long past their expiration dates in the name of commitment and “nobody’s perfect.”

Consider our speech:

The speaker-uppers hear John Mayer’s “Say” (or Katy Perry’s “Roar,” depending on your taste) and think, “Yes!  I should speak my mind MORE.  I should tell MORE truth, louder!”

The suppressors (like me), read a passage about taming the tongue and we just keep bottling things up in the name of being wise or measured.

Collectively, we need to STRIKE THAT; REVERSE IT.

People have a natural bent.   Each person’s natural bent is a little bit different, but collectively we all bend towards self-preservation.  We use our different coping mechanisms, our different drugs of choice, all towards the same end: comfort.

The speaker-uppers feel heard and important when they speak.
The suppressors feel safe when they suppress.

The happiness-seekers feel hope and the assurance of joy when they pursue pleasure.
The blind-committers feel safe and secure at the avoidance of conflict.

To the louds, loud comes naturally and they bend towards it.
To the quiets, quiet comes naturally and they bend towards it.

None of that’s bad – it just is.  The problem is that we are inclined to listen to the advice that supports our bent.  We fall down our own rabbit holes.  We operate like, if speaking up is good, then speaking up more is better!  If quiet is good, then quieter is better!  But that logic doesn’t hold water.  That’s like saying, if one burger is good, 3 burgers are better.  But three burgers will make you barf.   And so will a person who speaks everything they see/think/feel at maximum decibels.  And so will the anxiety of keeping everything inside.

I could talk all day long about keeping your mouth shut, and thinking before you act, and minding your own business, and taking the time you need to process things.   That’s my natural bent.  That’s all good advice, but it’s not for me.  I need someone to tell me to SPEAK UP.  Open your mouth, Kate, and call problems problems.  I need someone to kick my energy-preserving INFJ self in the tail and get me to play dates so that my kids can have friends.  The advice we live and the advice we give is not the same as the advice we need.


This is one of the gazillion ways that I am working on me.  I am trying to stop hoarding advice that supports my natural bent.  I am taking deep breaths and choosing to hear the voices that tell me to SPEAK UP, GET UP, PULL THE TRIGGER – not as criticism, and not as foolhardy, but as a precious challenge to my natural bent that will push me towards balance.  Towards greater maturity and health.

Towards courage.

__________________

The advice you live and the advice you give are not the same as the advice you need.   In what direction do you naturally bend?  

 

29 Nice Things

I turn 29 today.

It’s weird.

I still feel like a baby, like I am only playing grown up.  Do we feel this way forever, like we are always just WINGING IT?   Neither here nor there.

To celebrate my foray into the last year of my twenties, I am going to celebrate like I have never celebrated before.  I am going to celebrate for an ENTIRE MONTH…

…by doing 29 nice things for other people.

I am celebrating today, too. I’m taking the day off and cashing in my free birthday drink on a Venti frivolous something that will probably involve caramel drizzle.  But I also decided that my birthday is an easy opportunity to add some structure (a number, a timeline, and a plan) to a thing that I am trying to do in ever-increasing measure: love other people well.

I can’t expend myself for strangers this way all year, because I am busy expending myself for my family, for my inner circle, and for my do-for-one’s.  But I think this will be a special way to serve with my kids on a day that is traditionally all about ME AND MY GLORIOUS ENTRY INTO THE WORLD!

Here are a few of the things we’ll be doing this month.

    1. Bring quarters to the laundromat and pay for people’s laundry.
    2. Buy the coffee for the car behind me.
    3. Babysit for our neighbors.
    4. Bring a meal to a new mom.
    5. Volunteer with Madeline at the women’s shelter
    6. Bring a surprise in for Madeline’s class.
    7. Give blood.
    8. Register for the bone marrow registry.
    9. Collect/return all the carts in a parking lot.
    10. Make cards and artwork with the kids for nursing home residents.
    11. Collect litter along our walking route.

I’ll be documenting #29nicethings on Instagram starting this afternoon!  You can follow along here.

Feel free to join!  I’d love to see the ways you are loving your community.

Welp, off to the bloodmobile, which is the grossest-sounding thing I’ve written in a while.
Stay tuned…

Kate

 

 

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday, friends!

(source)

 

I’m really excited about what’s in store around here next week and next month.  I’m taking another #socialmediafreeweekend to gear up for it.  There is a lot of laughter and writing and heart coming your way.

love!
Kate