Tag Archives: space

Keeping Memories

I don’t think it’s that you have too much stuff. I think it’s that you have a lot of people to keep track of, and so it looks like too much.

These words of wisdom, spoken by my recently graduated high school senior, offered comfort to my heart, as I sat sorting and sorting and SORTING at the dining room table. End of the school year papers, awards, and report cards only scratched the surface. There were bits of art work, creative stories, and pictures in the mix. There were outgrown toys being boxed up and brought down from rooms.

There were my own issues coming into play, surfacing in the midst of the sorting. There was the reality of another year passing and change knocking on the door of my heart, or at least tapping me on the shoulder. There was a deep sense of reminding and remembering.

Once upon a time I dumped my memories into the trash. Boxes containing awards, medals from band and music achievements, childish journals and pictures, scrapbooks, all were cast aside. In their stead, I packed boxes of magazines for the mid-senior-year move that wrenched me 1,100 miles away from all that I knew.

Upon arrival at our new house, I asked when trash day was, so that I could leave the box of magazines on the curb. When packing up the old house, now several states away, mom had to leave her dining room chairs for lack of room on the moving truck, and dad’s tools went like hotcakes at a fire sale. I think we all were in a state of disorganization, shock, and chaos.

Maybe this factors into why my children’s memories are so important to me, and why I find it necessary to save things of perceived meaning. I want them to remember, or at least have the option of remembering. I don’t want to revise, though. Therein lies a bit of tension.

Each child has a clear plastic tote in the basement where items holding memories can be tossed. They also have a binder on a bookshelf with clear page protectors where papers can be inserted. Finally, each has a file folder where I can quickly sort and stash paper items to save for later.

I realize that everything cannot be saved, and I am not an advocate of hoarding. What holds meaning for one child does not for another, so one may have notebooks filled with written stories and hand drawn pictures, while another has objects no longer played with but still special.

Some kids are more sentimental than others.

Here is a list of things that I place value on and often date and save:

  • Creative writing or original stories
  • Hand-drawn pictures, especially “firsts” first drawing of a person or drawing of our family or written name. Usually found on the back of proper school work or on a church bulletin somewhere.
  • Samples from various developmental stages A kindergarten drawing of a family looks different than a third grade drawing, so I might have a sample of both.
  • Places where identity or dreams are processed What I want to be when I grow up. What makes me special now at whatever age I am.
  • Notes from others written to them
  • Words of affirmation
  • School certificates or awards
  • Team pictures
  • Programs or playbills from concerts or performances or recitals they were in
  • Notes written by them to us, even painful ones where they are angry
  • Birthday lists
  • Anything they request that marks a milestone or end of an era One child often asks me to put small items in the memory box that are outgrown, yet meaningful.

There are so many other options, and each family and child is different. I tend towards the tangible rather than the digital, even though I blog and do plenty of work with technology. No, I don’t save everything, and sometimes when going through items, I pare down further, realizing that I was a bit over-the-top.

On this particular sorting day, I processed my workbasket which was piled high with end-of-school-year paper items. Pulling everything out and separating into piles for each child and then into binders and finally onto shelves, the feeling of a slate being clean was very real.

I am ready for fall with the middle schoolers’ elementary items boxed away and the elementary child’s sorted into her binder. The high-school graduate is preparing to move and doing some serious de-cluttering of his own.

Maybe it is the season of mid-life processing that I am entering that calls me to keep memories for those who do not know their value, yet. Maybe it is the reckoning with myself. Whatever it is, by keeping memories for my children, I want to hold for them that who they are is connected to who they were as they grow into who they are becoming.

I also want to get a jump on my mama final exam.

Because a Baby Bird

Because a baby bird got into the house somehow (upstairs? through the attic? into the room remodel?) late Saturday afternoon and was chirping loudly, Coco ran up and corralled it down the stairs and into a corner of the front entryway.

Because Coco tried to pick it up, the baby bird ran under the piano, which is in the front entryway.

Because Daddy tried to move the piano to get to the baby bird, there were a lot of dust bunnies and lost items that had fallen behind it exposed.

Because Daddy captured the bird with a collectible slurpee cup and disposable food container lid and put it outside, little girls were distressed that Zephyr would get it.

Because it was time to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner, so that Mommy and Daddy could have a date night, the bird was left to survive in the wild.

Because the piano was askance, Mommy decided to vacuum and rearrange, and move it to the other wall.

Because that worked out, she moved the screen to make a little practice area for the upcoming piano season.


Here is what it looks like on the other side.

piano nook

All because of a baby bird.

(Here is what it looked like before.)

Smelling Toast

It was a quiet moment. The sibling groups were in sweet combinations, because I was left alone in my room to read for twenty minutes and do some writing. There was nary a knock nor squabble.

I felt grateful.

Part of the writing process is just doing it.


There is always a pile of excuses as to why I don’t have space, yet somehow I get drawn into passive scrolling on social media or sucked into other projects and time wasters.

Lately, though, my words have gone missing, and I feel stuck. I grab a few minutes here and there and . . . nothing.

It’s odd, really, the way I thought I would have all this time to write once school was out and I was home for the summer. I have time, yes, but inspiration and motivation now evade me. I feel empty.

Empty and quiet.

So that afternoon, when I sat smelling toast as the not-so-littles prepared themselves a favorite snack, I tried not to think about the damage to the kitchen. I soon realized it was a small price to pay for the quiet.

cinnamon toast

I didn’t realize it was also buying me future inspiration, that memory of smelling toast.

Always More Space to be Made

The weekend’s spring-like weather allowed for some time to catch up on the composting. The real, kitchen-scrap composting, not the composting in my heart.

Though I tried. I really did.

The scrap collection bin was filled to overflowing and needed attention.

Kind of like my heart does. It’s overflowing with big triggers and feelings and wounds that look an awful lot like pineapple tops and avocado pits and moldy bread.

We had stopped adding material to the tumbler months ago to allow its current matter time to process and break down. When Steve opened it, there was some finished compost to shovel into a trashcan to use in the real spring.


After emptying the tumbler of its finished product, he moved the mostly-frozen kitchen scraps from their holding bin, opening up more space to dump waste and giving the current debris a chance to move around and begin breaking down in earnest.

empty bin

This whole process was a visual reminder to me of the movement that needs to happen in my heart, as I process and transfer stories to their proper places and dump the current, unfinished mess into the tumbler to be worked.

compost tumbler

There is always more space to be made. And just when you think it’s all broken down, that orange comes rolling out of the middle of the finished compost and off of the shovel.

So what are you going to do about me?


In the Space

My little Gift and Thrift tree is set up in the space. It was purchased for not too much money a few years ago at my favorite thrift shop. I love that the branches stay attached and just kind of fold up, and that it assembles in two pieces.

I am not good about fluffing it to make it look real, though I am not sure how real a plastic tree can look. Once the ornaments are hung, it looks better.

The colored lights are strung, as I am a colored lights girl. Actually, I love the look of both colored and white together, but I also like using what I have, and this is it.

Decorating is not going according to plan. I removed the ornament box from our room when I realized that all we were doing was tripping over it. I know the decorating will happen, I am struggling to hold its timing very, very loosely.

So that is where things stand, and it is hard.

In the grand scheme of life it is not that big of a deal.

In fact, I am hearing a lot of things inside that try to minimize the hope and anticipation that I feel over the small act of unpacking my memories and hanging them for a season as a reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness to me over the years.

Too much trouble.

Why bother?

There are bigger issues in the world and in other people’s lives.

But this is my life. And these are my issues. And I will continue to hope and wonder.

I will continue to be encouraged by women like this who remind me that it’s okay to hope and to show up in the space slowly and quietly.

Creating Space

There is a breath mark between Thanksgiving and Advent, where the giving of thanks makes way for the light beginning to shine in the darkness. Some years offer natural space for this transition, allowing more time for preparation. Other years call for an intentional creating of space.

This year there is the tiniest of breath marks between the two.

This year calls for creating space.

I am making that choice in several ways, most obviously with physical space created in my room for the setting up of my own Christmas tree. There is a story behind this tree (isn’t there always?), and last year it served a different purpose. My ornaments remained boxed in the basement.

As Advent 2014 dawns, I feel a pull to create space in a less obvious way by making room to care for my heart. This looks like taking time to unpack my ornaments and the memories that they hold. It looks like remembering back to Christmases along my journey and holding my heart in those seasons.

There are many traditions, intentional and not, that have built up and taken place over the years. I feel a draw to unpack them from the haphazardness of my heart as I unpack my haphazard totes.

Maybe you have physical items to unpack.

Maybe there are only memories.

Maybe you will create your own space and join me.

Maybe you will create space to just rest.

Good Things

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
With my whole heart I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
May I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins.
He heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagles!
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

May I never forget the good things.

It is easy to forget in the hard, when everything feels overwhelming and bad.

There are so many good things.

Forgiveness. Not just forgiveness but restoration of hope and of relationships.

He has restored my soul.

Healing. Not from a physical wound or disease but from a deep heart wound. It is a continual process of relapse and repair.

The Great Physician continues to meet me in my places of pain.

Redemption. Pulled back from the brink of certain soul death, God has called me to life in the present, not just the hope of the everlasting.

I have been invited to live fully.

Love. My life is crowned with so much love that, at times, my head aches with the weight of it all. Yet the lover of my soul continues to press and pursue me with the magnitude and depth of his care.

He offers me tender mercies each day.

Good things.

I listen to piano music being played, and my soul soars. The music happens just because there is a piano and just because it can be played. There is no agenda other than beauty.

I fill my belly with warm food prepared together with my husband. A son has requested breakfast burritos, so we lazily chop and brown and saute and sip coffee as we mull over the state of current events, and, more importantly, the current state of our hearts.

I steal off to my room and place of space when time around the table becomes too much to handle. My husband graciously resolves an episode of conflict surrounding episode pick as I read from Psalm 103 and ponder good things.

I accept that my dining room table has transformed to a ping-pong table and the chandelier has been raised to accommodate two brothers competing and instructing the youngest on ping-pong technique, while singing family folk songs. I hear this through my closed bedroom door, images filling my mind. Little sisters clamor to join and are welcomed with patient grace.

There is no Macy’s Day Parade on my TV, but there is a parade of music, words, memories, and people flooding my mind and filling my Facebook feed and texting my phone. There is the hope that one day Thanksgiving may look like what I long for and what has been in the past with parade watching and couch-cuddling and coffee drinking and sweet potato baking.

When it looks like that, it will no longer look like this.

And this is a good thing. I am thankful.

Fair Judgement, Mercy, Kindness

It’s a tough decision, and I can’t do everything.

Waking early and diving into Bible reading and journaling becomes coffee and bedmaking and starting the laundry. Stepping into the kitchen, and its remains from last night’s family time makes returning to my writing and thinking space anything but relaxing or invigorating.

I return anyway.

So it goes these days, all days, really, but especially these.

I have to choose carefully among all that is good. I can’t do it all.

Surprise, surprise!

But the soul needs to be fed, and the heart needs space to open, so that is where I land this morning in the midst of all that presents. I need space to listen to God before I dive into the rest of the day headfirst.

Judge fairly and show mercy and kindness to one another. Zechariah 7:9

Show mercy and kindness.
Be strong and finish the task.
Seeds of peace and prosperity are being planted.

Be strong and get on with what you have been called to do!

Don’t be afraid.

Celebrate joy.
Love truth and peace.

Seeds are being planted.

Thank you for this reminder, Father.

Looking back over the past 25 years, I often feel shame and contempt rather than gratitude and hope for the seeds.

Thank you that you are always planting, always pruning, always finishing the work that you start. Give grace for me to witness growth.

Fair judgement, mercy, kindness. Three things needed on a Saturday in my home. When the episodes are over and the must do’s call my name, these three will carry me through.

Thank you, Jesus!

Mama’s Workbasket

It sits in the corner of my favorite place, collecting all that needs attention.

laptop for blogging, books for reading, journals for writing, papers for filing, scraps for art journaling, letters for addressing and mailing

I am always working on it, and it is always full.

Pinterest Corner

I smile at how it is different from other Mamas’ Workbaskets collecting all of their projects.

yarn for knitting, blocks for quilting, clothing for mending, needles for stitching, photos for scrapbooking, crafts for making, toys for sorting, papers for grading…

It’s okay to be different and to have a different kind of work in my basket.

I remember the wisdom from today’s teabag…be yourself.

I’m trying. My workbasket holds much of what makes me…me. It contains projects and work that I value and enjoy (mostly) when I find time and space to tackle them!

How about you? What’s in YOUR workbasket, Mama?

Coffee Corner

Favorite Place

It’s my favorite place, my Pinterest corner. The place where, my eldest points out, I can take a picture and make it look like life is perfect.

Coffee with my love. Drinking from our fall mugs. Knowing that whatever this year brings, we will face it together, like we have for the past 21.

Pinterest Corner

It seems I am not the only one who finds refuge and creative energy here.

Where is your favorite place for creating heart space?