Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: LXXVIII


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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Last week I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.

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On Friday night I went shopping all by myself. I can't remember the last time I went shopping all alone. I spent 48 minutes talking at the MAC makeup counter. I tried on shoes, walked around the store, and then tried on the same pair of shoes again. I didn't have to defend this shopping strategy to anyone. I bought shorts and orange pants and a new skirt (or two). I dug through sale racks of summer shirts -- for myself. I even found an almost perfect coffee mug. (You'll have to follow me on Instagram to see it...@ruth_ayres.)

There was a time in life when I shopped alone, but wished I wasn't. I longed for a baby. Watching new parents pull a stroller out of the trunk tugged at tears. Hearing a toddler play in the dressing room next to me hurt my heart. And if you tried to convince me that shopping alone would be a celebration down the road of life, I might have wanted to kick you in the shins.

I celebrate because I like the reminder of how quickly life changes. A decade ago, shopping alone felt like one more stick in my cage of infertility. Today, shopping alone is a rare bliss. Driving home alone at 10:00 last night, I began to consider all the little pricks in life today that might become a rare bliss in a decade.

Every weekday afternoon, our kitchen table is covered with homework. They sit there, snacks on napkins, giggling and calculating and reading. I always wonder why their papers don't get mixed up. I'm greeted with hugs and then more papers are shoved into my hands...quizzes and field trip forms and tennis registration. The floor is littered with paper and backpacks and kicked-off shoes.  I take a deep breath and smile, pushing this thought out of my mind: Why can't I come home to a clean table? It's only moments and then they shove their school work into their backpacks, dropping them in the back hall. I'm going to miss this table full of school work someday.

Since bedtime is getting a little later, I've started writing before the kids go to bed. I've tried moving my writing spot around the house to find a place where I'm out of the way. They follow me. I'm not sure they know they follow me, but they do. Wherever I plant myself to write, they congregate. I've decided to love this about them and learn to write with yo-yo strings zipping and hair being brushed and giggles uncontained.

I trip over shoes a lot. They are never Andy's shoes, but that still leaves 5 of us with shoes around the house. Even if we only have one pair out, that's 10 shoes to trip over. I know I'll miss this, because I still miss Karianne's flip flops that used to sit next to the garage door.

Right now there's a football on the coach, a baseball cap on the book shelf, a book on the blanket basket, a hair brush on the arm of the couch, and a paper airplane poking out of the jar of flowers on the fireplace mantel. I'm celebrating these things. This is evidence of the life that girl who hated shopping alone longed to have.

She wanted active kids (and a football player would be icing on the cake). She wanted a little boy who loved baseball caps and paper airplanes. She wanted to braid long hair. She wanted a home filled with books and people who loved to read them. She couldn't wait to buy little shoes.

I will celebrate these things, these common, ordinary, pesky things, because they are powerful and worthy celebrations. When we celebrate the pesky points in life, there is more space in a heart. Complaining fills a heart dark and hard. Celebrating -- especially turning a complaint to a celebration -- creates space in a heart. This space is where joy takes hold and grows.

Thanks for celebrating with me today!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: LXXVII


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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Naturally, I ought to celebrate a week of Spring Break. A little sunshine and ice cream and time to play with photos + words. Since Andy's mom moved eight hours away, our spring break tradition of staying home has shifted. Now the kids and I go visit Tennessee and Andy stays home and works.

Did you know taking a road trip with four kids is not for the feint of heart? Taking a road trip with a couple of kids who get a little anxious when one parent is gone is definitely not for the feint of heart. Taking a road trip with a couple of kids who are still learning self-control and have an even harder time regulating their emotions when feeling anxious is only for the very brave (and maybe a little crazy).

People were praying for us. I'm happy to report no one busted out of the van, ran across four lanes of traffic screaming, "Help me! Save me!" No one kicked a hole in the wall. No one punched anyone else. No one refused to go to bed. No one threw a fit.

Make no doubt, prayer is powerful.

I posted this photo on Instagram --

With this little note --
Right now I'm thankful to have a God who heals. Look at them, playing and imaging and inventing and creating a whole wide make believe world. If you were sitting next to me on this screened-in porch, in the tree tops, you'd hear birds and fish splashes and giggles, but no fights. It's never too late to reclaim childhood.

There's this story in scripture of a woman who battled sickness for 12 years. She was desperate, spending all of her money on doctors who could not heal her. She is in a crowd and Jesus is ahead of her. She bumps between the bodies of people scrambling and shoving. She reaches out for his garment, believing if she simply touches the fabric on his cloak she will be healed. I imagine her fingers brushing his hem. She is healed instantly and Jesus stops, looks around, and asks who touched him. I bet all the bustling paused in that moment. The woman fell before Jesus, her heart patters, she tells the whole truth. He says, "Your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed."

Our kids are too much for me to handle. Not only are there four of them, but their needs are great. When you spend a childhood without a forever family, it's a process to learn to be secure. Here's the truth of the matter:

Jesus has more power over our lives than the events that happen to us.

When I think about that woman all dusty and worn out and at the end of her rope, she still reaches out. She still fights with all she has. She still clings to hope. She doesn't give up.

This is how we overcome the events that have happened to us. We don't have to allow the hard to define us. We don't have to give the unfair and the wrong and the unjust a foothold in our lives. Rather, we reach out in faith and allow healing to happen.

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Follow me on Instagram! @ruth_ayres 

I shouldn't be surprised that once again Slice of Life gave me more than I expected. Since I preposted all of my vintage slices, I didn't have the pressure (err, guilt) to blog. It opened up quite a bit of space for me to work on other writing.

I've been using Instagram more and more and learning how it influences my writing process. (This blog post is evidence.)

Listening to Christine Cain's podcast this week, I was reminded that we shouldn't ever stay in the same place. I realized this is true for my blogging life. I'm trying to hold on to the way I've blogged for the last 13 years and am learning instead of helping me as a writer it is hindering me.

So, today I turned my Instagram account from private to public. It is a place where I collect gritty celebrations and genuine stories. It is a place I document my radical faith. Will you follow me there?

Of course I won't turn away from blogging. I am thankful we come together to celebrate each week. I'm simply taking the undue pressure and unreasonable expectations off of myself. I'll continue to collect stories throughout the week on Instagram and I'll keep blogging here once a week.

It is such a simple solution. I can't believe it's taken me this long to figure it out!

Thanks for celebrating with me and encouraging me to evolve as a writer.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: LXXVI


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
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I posted this on my IG feed this week and the words stuck-fast to my heart. We walk the hard to get to to the celebration. This is a truth of human existence.

We walk the hard to make it to the celebration.

This week is holy week. On Thursday I sat around a table with an eclectic mix of people. We were there for a meal, but not an ordinary meal. Thick thorns served as the centerpiece, along with unleavened bread and small cups of deep red liquid. We remembered.

Not only did we remember the last supper of the Savior, but we remembered the way God is active and alive in our own lives. I was humbled to sit at this table. Looking around, we were quite a collection of God's people -- spiffy on the outside, ragged on the inside.

A man buried alive in a farming accident six months prior sat beside me. He is evidence of a good and healing God. A young mother, after a long rainy day of meeting need after need after need of her three small children sat on my other side. She is evidence of a strong and resilient God. A man widowed too soon in life sits across the table. He is evidence of a God who offers peace and love. Those eyes I fell in love with more years ago than I can count, caught mine when we broke the bread. He is evidence of a God who offers grace and mercy. His arm rested gently on the back of the chair of the woman next to him. A woman who buried both her son and grandson in the last eight weeks. She is evidence of a God who is big enough to shoulder the ugliest this world has to offer. At the end of the table sits a woman who is making hard choices in the name of her health. She is evidence of a God who cares. There is a man who works long hours this time of year, yet takes time to remember this night, this turning point in the life of Jesus. He is evidence of a God who provides.

I am surrounded by their stories. My heart feels a holy beat. We span generations. We span occupations. We span hobbies and interests and talents. We see different ways the world spews ugly into the lives of people. We each have a different journey. Yet, we are all on the same quest to love God and love people.

We came together around the table for a spiritual meal, to remember the sacrifice of Jesus. We ate dinner together, washed feet, broke bread, took the cup. We prayed, worshiped, and remembered.

We remembered we have a good and active God. We remembered the story ends in victory.

This is the celebration of Easter. The events leading to the celebration are hard, ugly, and violent. They break my heart and pierce my soul. Easter reminds me that when the story turns hard, it isn't the end. Easter reminds me when we walk through the hard, we find the celebration. This is why I celebrate -- ragged and tattered and scarred -- because celebration isn't lack of hard, it is the wherewithal to walk through the hard.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Vintage Slice 31



March 31, 2011


March reminded me to take care of myself.
March reminded me of the power of a writing community.
March reminded me I am determined.
March reminded me my words make a difference to other’s lives.
March reminded me I’m busy.
March reminded me ordinary days are my passion.
March reminded me to let go of unrealistic expectations.
March reminded me to breathe.
March reminded me each day is a gift.

It’s been many years since a month has whirled me around like March 2011. Emotions swirling. Life swarming. Days filled to the brim. Thank goodness I’ve been living like a writer: paying attention to the details;  collecting words every single day; pushing myself to really see life.

Thank you for helping me realize these reminders this month. I needed them. I am forever changed. And this is a good thing. Because life is about growing, changing, connecting, and becoming the best possible versions of ourselves. March reminded me this can’t happen in isolation.

Vintage Slice

Monday, March 30, 2015

Vintage Slice 30



March 4, 2011
 


Spring on a grey day.
Today was a grey rainy day. After school and before we went to our friends’ house for dinner Sam and I played outside. In our rain boots (yes, his are on the wrong feet . . . but he did it himself!) we came across this little guy. I am reminded how sometimes hope is hidden among the grey. Spring is hinting and this month I’m determined to find it. I’m thankful to be slicing during this month of change.

Vintage Slice

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Vintage Slice 29



March 8, 2011

This is where you'll find me . . .
This is where you’ll find me at the end of the day, cuddling with kids, reading bedtime stories. Then they go to bed and . . .
This is where you’ll find me blogging.
This is where you’ll find me reading.
This is where you’ll find me watching crime shows.
This is where you’ll find me studying my devotions.
This is where you’ll find me digital scrapbooking.
This is where you’ll find me laughing with my husband.
This is where you’ll find me writing and writing and writing.

Vintage Slice