Yep, I am behind on my attempt to blog weekly already! Ha! Considering I am really just doing this to reflect and keep a record that is okay. I have to admit that it is going to be harder to think back to last week though. My brain is not working so great right now. But I will try...

1. Amazing Homeschool Mama Friends - I have been truly blessed with great local relationships lately. This is something I prayed for year after year in Nebraska. God has really opened a lot of doors over the past few years, and has shown me so much about friendship and love. I really need to spend some time digging in to this, because it has been quite a journey. I am learning that fellowship won't always fit the mold you have created in your head, and that people can bless us in so many different ways. Lots to think about there, but for the sake of this post I am just thankful for the mamas I am working with to help take our local co-op forward. 

2. My Bookish Boy - So... my library card expired this month. Or maybe it was at the end of last month. The point is that it expired. And this completely wrecked me for a hot minute. I never know what is going to trigger my anxiety, but this was the final straw this time apparently. So I am thankful for a sweet boy to encourage me to go do the things that need to be done, and for how much he loves the library (even if I still miss our Nebraska library 4 years later...)

3. So many words. How have I written so many words and I am only on #3? I am thankful for my mind...even when it uses too many words. 

4. Music! It's funny... for most people music is a given. I really don't listen to music a whole lot though! So sometimes it hits me fresh what a blessing it can be. This week especially it was the song Nobody by Casting Crowns. Oh and discovering Anne Wilson with Aiden.

5. MAHC -  I have been trying real hard to make sure all of these aren't co-op related, but with it being the first week back it really did kind of consume our week. Day 1 was amazing! I am making a real effort to connect with people instead of hiding in classrooms when I am not teaching and it is really blessing me.

6. Aiden's Love of People - Switching Aiden to afternoons this semester means he is with all new kids. I love that he was so excited to tell me all about the new friends he made. I may be content to stay home all the time, but this kiddo has a heart for people and I love to see God nurturing that!

7. The Student Physician I Saw This Week - So I am not the biggest fan of student physicians. I don't go to the doctor a lot, and when I do I always have super high anxiety. So when they asked if a student could see me first I was so very unhappy. I said yes though. I always say yes. Such a people pleaser. Anyhow, this student was amazing. There was something about him that instantly put me at ease and I have not had such a pleasant doctor's visit in a very long time. 

8. Homeschool Flexibility - It has been a rough few days, and I am especially thankful today that we have flexibility in our schedule. We have been banking extra hours for when we need days off and it has definitely been break time here lately. I am looking forward to diving back in soon though.

9. Matt's Vehicle Repairs - I am definitely happy that Matt's vehicle was able to be repaired at a reasonable cost. That is a huge weight lifted. 

10. The Courage to Keep Trying - We are switching my meds again. I could say a lot about this, as it has been a pretty awful transition. Instead, I will focus on the fact that I am able to keep trying. There was a time not long ago when it would have been too overwhelming to even try. I pray we get it right soon, but for now I am just thankful for progress. 

It's Never Too Late to Give Thanks - 10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week

Tuesday, February 15

I used to love doing these weekly posts to look back on the best parts of each week. I am excited to resume them today! So without further ado, here are 10 things that made me happy this week...

1. Snow! Aiden spending the first 9 years of his life in Nebraska meant growing accustomed to a few good snows each winter. Southeast Missouri does not typically get as much snow, so it is always that much more exciting when we get enough for him to play in! His joy brings me SO much joy! 

2. I have been working on the website for our homeschool group, and this week I shared a Board Game Bingo printable for the month of February. I used to love the gameschool challenge on Insta every February, but they no longer run that. So I thought a bingo sheet would encourage us to play more and mix up the games we are choosing. 

3. Reconnecting with friends I haven't talked to for a while is always good for my spirit. I really want to work on being more intentional about keeping up with long-distance friends this year.

4. This week also brought an opportunity to connect with some new homeschool friends in a different way as I asked some of the teachers for this semester to form a prayer warrior group with me. I pray that God will help us to form bonds as we pray for each other, and that He will do big things in our co-op! 

5. The slower pace of snow days made it the perfect time for me to bake cookies for the neighbors. I used to do this a lot more often, so it was good to get back to doing something I love to do! I used this sugar cookie recipe, which is always a hit!

6. We have been using a new curriculum for Latin this past month, and we are really liking it. We started this year doing latin with a really challenging course. It was fun, but hard to keep up with. Visual Latin feels much more manageable and I am really hoping this is the curriculum that will finally keep us consistent. We are also using a new grammar course, and we are loving that as well. It is taught by the author of a trilogy of books we like, and that makes it extra enjoyable.

7. My friend Brittany shared a photo of her planner the other day and it encouraged me to work on getting more organized again. I have been super pleased with how well I have logged homeschool this year, and feel a lot more organized in that area, but I could definitely benefit from working on other areas of my life. The planner she uses has a free PDF version, so I am trying it out!

8. Aiden and I recently read the book The Witch of Blackbird Pond at the same time. I assigned it to him, but then I started reading the first would chapters and decided I wanted to read it as well. We were snuggled up reading (him from the print copy and me from scribd) and he looked up at me and said "I just got a burst of joy that we are both reading this!" I just love my sweet boy. 

9. Yesterday Aiden and my mom did one of their video calls where they collaborate on a project of drawing funny dogs together. They chat about what it should look like and he does the drawing while she provides input along the way. It is just the best, and it had been a while since they have done that so it really made me happy! We have been calling her most nights to read the Bible together, so the just-for-fun calls have been fewer. We are going to work on making time for both! 

10. I have been sleeping better again finally after swapping some medications around. This always helps with the happy level.

I can't wait to see what the next week has in store! God certainly fills our lives with good things! 

Snow Days and Games to Play - 10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week

Saturday, February 5

See what I did there after the last post's title? Oh so clever, right? Ha! I do want to continue digging in to this idea of using technology in a balanced way. I am continually feeling challenged to really slow down and consider the choices I make. This is really not easy for me. I am someone who likes having a plan and knowing what should happen... but rarely follows the plan when it is time to actually make choices. 

While I was doing the Armor of God Bible study with some friends at the end of last year, I was challenged to look at what Scripture had to say about what I felt I needed to work on most. I ended up becoming really attached to a verse from Ephesians. I have made it my verse for the year: 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil." - Ephesians 5:15-16

There's a lot to that verse, and I am just beginning this year, but it does speak to the idea of living with intention. There have been times in my life where I was better at staying present and having purpose. These last few months have not necessarily been one of those times. 

I lost one of my very best friends rather suddenly at the end of 2021... right as Advent was beginning. I still don't think I am ready to really unpack all of that, but it did lead to an interesting Advent season. I kept referring to it as "the year of good enough." We didn't do all of the normal Advent things, but what we did do was try to treasure the time we had together. There were a lot of really hard days, but there were also some really beautiful ones. I still miss Julie so very much, but I am also reminded so often of how precious each day is. I don't want to let life pass me by.

I know that I haven't been making the best choices lately. Once Christmas was over and winter really began here I definitely slipped into some bad habits of avoidance and mindless numbing through things like TV and the internet. That is not how I was created to live, and it certainly hasn't yielded good fruit. So now I am in a familiar place... at the corner of Grace and Despair. 

I find myself immediately staring down the path of just giving up on the idea of being any different. I feel like I have been here too often and I am never going to learn. It would be so easy to just continue down this road and just keep avoiding things. But Grace. Grace is calling me. God is calling me. Reminding me that His love is right here, right now. Asking me to turn my head and see how the road He has prepared for me is so much better. Holding out His mighty hand to walk with me. 

I know this won't be the last time I see this corner. I know the path God has in store for me isn't the easy one. Aiden and I talk a lot about taking the rocky road (and we don't mean the ice cream!) instead of the smooth one. Sure, I could wander down the path that seems smooth because I have numbed my mind to seeing how bad it really is. All I will see there is the same dusty road stretching endlessly in front of me and leading nowhere. Or I can walk over the rough terrain of following God that will lead to the most amazing views of Mercy and Love. 

If I know all of this, then why is it so dang hard to turn toward Grace? I know I can't do it on my own. So I am forever thankful for a God who continues to provide His strength to move in the right direction. He will never stop pulling me back to the right path as I stay grounded in His Word and walk by faith. 

So today I take one step in the right direction. And then one more. That's all I can really do. Take things one step at a time. I would much rather hop on an airplane. But it's really all about the journey, right? I can't really end there with a cliché can I? But alas, I have steps I need to go take right now and that will have to do. 

It feels really good to be writing again...

A Life Lived with Intention

Saturday, January 29

That's a pretty ominous blog post title! It is just what popped into my head while I was contemplating my struggle with technology. I have really been thinking about it a lot lately. I laughed when I logged on here and realized that I missed what seemed to be a yearly tradition of posting once a year in November last year. Clearly I have never regained any kind of blogging momentum. I haven't even been on instagram for quite a while now, at least not until this morning. It has certainly been a season of being more unplugged for me.

Being unplugged is certainly not a bad thing. The beauty of building relationships over the years is that many are not confined to a blog or social media platform. I have found some truly wonderful friendships that continue outside my sharing publicly online. However, I have learned over the years that I am really just not good at any kind of documenting life unless it involves a computer keyboard... or at least a phone app. I miss being able to look back on life easily. 

I have said many times over the years that my whole goal for doing things like instagram is so that I will have that visual reminder of how beautiful life can be when I am going through a less-than-beautiful time. So often I have felt like I was at my limit with frustration and discouragement, but looking at that little grid of photos of the joys God has placed in my life pulls me out of the darkness for the moment. There is power in focusing on the good things. 

And yet... I am continually questioning if being online is actually good for me. There is such a fine line between connecting with people online and avoiding dealing with things by scrolling mindlessly. Let's not even talk about how often I follow random trails to reading things that have no real value. Apparently, I am the kind of person click bait is created for. So I go back and forth and back and forth... over and over without ever really coming up with an answer. But then I look back on posts like this one and I am reminded what a gift it is to be able to remember these little things that I had completely forgotten. (The part about Aiden setting up office delighted me for sure!)

So maybe I will start blogging again. I know I say that about once a year, ha! But I am strongly considering it this time. I feel like I need to go through and get rid of a bunch of posts here though... all the old sponsored campaigns that I did and things like that. All I am really interested in are the memories! And the photos... so many great photos! I really need to do a post like this one from 2016 every year to collect my favorites.

So anyhow, that's where I am today. I do know that I miss posting bookish things on insta because that's how I find so many of my favorite reads. So maybe weekly happy posts here and book posts there? I don't know... we will see. What I do know for sure is that I enjoyed looking back through this space a little tonight. I am certain there will be more of that in days to come. What a beautiful life God has given me. 

And since it has been over a year since I have posted here, here is what we look like these days. Aiden has grown so much!

A Life Lived in Tension

Wednesday, January 26

 I have been thinking about returning to this space a lot lately. That always happens when summer ends... autumn has always been my return-to-blogging season. Yet it has taken me weeks to actually sit down to type something this time. Mostly because I can't figure out where to start or what I want to share. I feel like that is probably what has prevented me from really resuming in years past. I log on, waffle around a little, share a few unrelated things and then eventually lose interest. So I am asking myself again... what is it that I really miss. 

I think the answer is that I miss taking the time to record things. I think it is valuable to slow down long enough to really see what is going on in the days and weeks that often run together. I also think that in this season I have almost no short-term memory, as I have seen evidenced in how I cannot remember to return simple texts and how recording homeschool hours threatens to make my head explode if I wait more than a day to do it. I am constantly relying on instagram posts to jog my memory about what we did for school on a specific day, but even there I have been posting less and less. 

So, here I am again... wishing I had never lost the habit of recording things but also looking back and wishing there was less "other stuff" from days of blogging past. That realization seems to be new to me. I really have no desire to write tutorials or reviews or any of those types of posts that I go caught up in doing for a while. At least not here. (I do plan to write things like that for my friend Jamie... you know, the one I said I might write for this time last year, ha!) So realizing that I get this urge to go back and clean up content until I get just the stuff I want. This is similar to the urge to deal with the 10,000 photos I have of Aiden's first 7 years of life. The similarity is this: both are completely overwhelming. So... maybe someday. 

Today, I am just going to be content with having visited this space, and who knows what comes next. The thing I know for sure is that it sure feels good to be hitting these keys, and the sound of this organic typing always makes me smile.  

Hitting the Keys Again

Saturday, November 7

A little flashback to the early days of this blog!!

Okay, so that title is cheesy and that photo is totally unrelated. But I have been spending the bulk of my online time lately working on helping my friend Jamie with her online shop and website: Pure Joy Creative. It has been really good for me to use this part of my brain again, but I have already written about that recently. I did want to pop back on here, however, because her website is live now (YAY!) and we are getting to a point where I will have more time to come back to this space once in a while.

I will be blogging for Jamie occasionally, but this space is still my online home and there have been many times in the past few weeks when I have wanted to come do some writing. I am excited that the desire to do that remains, and also that I should be able to follow up on it soon! I have a lot on my mind as far as what I want this space to become. It has served many purposes over the years, but now that I am entering yet another new season of life it is time to kind of find my next vision.

This blog began as a photography blog, way back in the day, and I loved how much I learned and the friends I made. Them when I first had Aiden, and struggled with postpartum depression, I connected with amazing women through sharing about that. As Aiden grew and life changed, I entered into the realm of homeschooling and taking on campaigns for brands I loved. Then there were the gap years!

Well, during those gap years, a big part of my time was spent working through my diagnosis with cPTSD and going through treatments. While I don't feel like I will write extensively about that, I do want to look at what I can bring to this space as a result of what I learned. So, anyhow... I am still here and still thinking about things. I am thankful for this space and the people who still visit to share this part of my world.

Photo by Kolyssa Teal
One a lighter note, today you can fund my much-loved Pumpkin Roll recipe being shared over on Pure Joy Creative. You will notice I had Jamie label it as "Chelsey's Pumpkin Roll" because my big sister was the original queen of the pumpkin rolls. Gotta give credit where credit is due! Head on over and grab your copy and pin that post on Pinterest if you really want to make me smile!

I can't wait to share more in the coming days! Happy Monday, friends!

The Project Bringing Me Pure Joy!

Monday, November 11