thoughts from independence day

On Saturday morning I was curled up on the couch, reading. I came across this:

The traditions of those bygone times, even to the smallest social particular, enable one to understand more clearly the circumstances which contributed to the formation of character. The daily life into which people are born, and into which they are absorbed before they are well aware, forms chains which only one in a hundred has moral strength enough to despise, and to break when the right time comes—when an inward necessity for independent individual action arises, which is superior to all outward conventionalities. Therefore it is well to know what were the chains of daily domestic habit which were the natural leading-strings of our forefathers before they learnt to go alone.

These words were penned by British author Elizabeth Gaskell in the early 1850s and, in context and original intent, have nothing to do with Independence Day.

BUT.

Let’s remember that history is more than a stack of dry data. The people involved in events recorded in history are made up of more than we know. I like to categorize and define. I like to sort and connect. But real, whole people are not easy to simply and accurately sort and categorize. Any time we place a label, we disregard or flat-out reject every other possible label.

Remember with me that there are always more factors to consider.

 

 

scarcity or plenty

Today has not been my favorite. 

This week. This month. The past year. 

Back and back and back.

 That tells me that I’m in a funk. I’m not spending real time with God. I’m not letting Him mold and challenge and fuel me – I’m reacting (often badly) to what comes at me. 

This evening, I was alternating between actual sorrow (we have had a few pieces of sad news lately and I just have not let myself process any of it) and a depressed pity party. I was struggling to find something good to think about, or to lift my eyes to truly pray. 

Then I realized my inspiration board from January’s Pursuit Birmingham meet-up was in the floor. Again. Because Annie likes it. In the floor. It was like an accusation, not only because it was in the floor (again), but because I, like, never actually follow through with any goals from inspiration boards. If I do, it’s from a place of scarcity and fear, not goal-building and encouragement. 

BUT THEN I REALLY LOOKED AT THE PICTURES.  

 

I have worked to obviously develop a color scheme and an organized dynamic and lovely liveability in our house. (We have tiny havens of this – like the new gallery wall in our bedroom.) 

I have planted actual seeds and basically (okay, sadly and irregularly) tended them (aanndd they have literally born fruit, but some of it has been awfully bitter).

 

 I have embraced paint mess. 

 
I have found ways to incorporate shiny spahklee. 

 

I have worked on improving our learning/growing spaces (it’s still a mess but it’s already a better kind of mess).

 
Flowers, okay, FLOWERS.     

I have actually followed through with some ideas. None of it is perfect because I am not perfect. It’s fine! I am fine! I am enough. I do enough. Sometimes I am capable of more or better, and in those times I follow through. 

NOW is a good time to pause and to be proud of and pleased with and thankful for who I am and what I can do – it’s time to remember that God already knows all about what He has made me to do. He knows the to-do and the actually-done lists, and He evaluates them differently than I do. 

These are truths and words and phrases that I come back to and repeat crazy many times because I love them and believe them and trust them, I love God and believe God and trust God, but I still don’t love me or believe me or trust me. 
I am trying to chip away, to dig deep, to hit at the root issues that cause trouble within and through me. I get it that the pictures I’ve shown are kinda shallow, that this list is not obviously super important stuff from an eternal, God-honoring perspective. But it’s representative of deep shifts in my expectations for myself and my focus on God. 

fresh words

My house is mostly quiet. Everyone else has gone to bed – not to sleep, yet. But the settling has begun. I can hear the ceiling fan. Kids are coughing. We are on the feeling-better climb after yet another virus. I am tired. I am tired of being sick. I am tired of being frustrated about being sick. I am tired of the bicycle bell on Peppa Pig. It’s been that kind of day.

I spent time working on our school plan. Usually by this point I have the basic plan in place and we have started lessons. This year we are waiting until July to begin formal instruction. I needed the extra time. I needed the mental space, the margin. I think really the wait is because I want a scheduling epiphany or for the Happy Smiles fairy to visit in the night and pod-person all my kids so they enjoy cooperating. I know that cooperative pod-kids are wrong. That would be boring. And where would my wild and imaginative and determined kids go? Eventually I would be angry about the pod-kids, so I am trying to push that idea away.

But still. 

Speaking of pods, the beans and peas are really growing. I need to spend more time tending the plants. Lately “tending” has involved a lot of staring at them wondering about things like why I forgot how far over the sun gets (the tomatoes don’t get sun until after 10am, *screech of anguish*) and if I should pull up that cucumber plant and how long will it take the carrots to actually mature enough to be worth picking and why didn’t any of the marigolds grow. 

I have started a list of resources and am looking for fresh words to pour into my brain. I’m focusing on the Bible and on school-related material. I’m also revisiting books and such that encourage me to be my best me, to be the example I want my kids to follow, to remember to apologize sincerely when I am wrong and to determine to make a better choice at the next opportunity.

Annie was mad at me this morning and she screamed “CHOICES!!” in my face and it was like the sun burst from behind the clouds in my heart. It was a wonky situation, but she proved she hears me.  

 

I need to prove that what I say is worth hearing.

weaving a prayer:: codname:popquiz is officially available for preorder

June. JUNE. I have been writing and even blogging, but everything is partially done or OLD and I have felt like I am posting but there have been no new posts published. I’ve been so busy with so many things, but I feel like I have nothing to show for it except a messy house and kids who need more on-purpose projects.

That’s not entirely true. I do have stuff in the shop again, finally!

It’s updated with preorder listings for the new writenow journals and kits. I have got the pieces listed separately in addition to full kits. My deadline for preorders is June 18th, for the kits to be delivered by July 1st. That’s when I’ll start blogging about our family Scripture memory adventure, which is what prompted the new journal anyway. If you head to shop.meganfloyd.com, you can find the full text of the first week’s check-in in the “weaving a prayer” expanded journal listing.

This has been a very intense series of tasks – from planning to setting up the book to editing and then setting up the listings at the shop. Amazingly, I am already looking forward to the next one. It’s funny how much easier it is to do difficult work when it feels rewarding.

 

codename:popquiz – the new writenow journal (an update)

 I have to fight the belief that if I would be more dedicated to a specific schedule, I would be a better person. My house would be cleaner, I would prepare better (healthier) meals, I would have a thriving business, I would exercise way more, my kids would be happier, my husband would be happier, I would spend more time with God… the list goes on. I guess it’s true that if I could stick with a stricter schedule, I would do more things in particular time slots. I have forced myself to very seriously evaluate this, and what I see is a journey to exhaustion and burnout. So I try to avoid thinking that doing all the things on my list RIGHT NOW OKAY is where my value lives.  

 

God keeps throwing open doors and windows that let me see that everything truly has its season! Things happen on God’s schedule, and where He puts them.

I was gifted a few random minutes to Really Think this evening – not Bible study, not journaling, not dealing with a program or a theme… just to pause and reflect and reach out to God for my words. When I showed up for this meeting with God, He handed over answers to some things that have been bugging me about myself and some projects. I keep telling myself (and I’ve started telling other people) that sometimes we just have to pull back and simplify and do the best next thing. We have options. We have choices. But what’s the BEST next thing to do? 

If I had stuck to my schedule, I would have powered through – most likely way past these answers – and would have been been rewarded (backhandedly) with a big mess. 

Y’all. I’m sort of writing a book.  

 

It’s more like I’m doing a whole lot of highly-structured pre-writing for a collection of essays. But I have an idea and I am doing a certain level of research and I already have the book formatted. 

The actual words aren’t there, though. 

Mostly because I’m scared, but partly because it takes focus that is hard to come by when kids are awake. On Monday I wanted desperately to finish that sheet that’s visible – looking up and writing out some specific verses related to another verse. I did it! Barely. I stood at the work table with my foot propped on a stool, holding Annie (and YES, that not-a-baby leg belongs to THE BABY, yikes, she’s not a baby anymore). 

Until this week, my plan was to have the rough draft ready for proofing by, um, tomorrow. That would keep me on schedule to launch June 1st. While I was looking at calendars and fighting with the computer and trying to spend legitimate time with and energy on my kids, I decided to gift myself a month. I would just push it back a month and deal with being (feeling? being? feeling? being? It was a battle to know how to consider it!) off-schedule later. 

Later. 

So I was deep in this meeting with God when I decided to literally gift myself a month, and knock off a portion of the material. That’s where the rest of the powering-through-to-a-mess comes in. There are a few rough patches that I know would require more careful treatment. Now I’ve got the freedom to just NOT. They can go. 
I was trying to make space for pieces that go to another puzzle. I was trying to focus on something that God helped me see past. 

 

project:playtime (spring 2015)

project:playtime (spring 2015)

I am currently at work on a supersecret project, and it is really working, so I am having all.the.ideas and everything else just sort of melts away. More ideas. Aanndd some more ideas.

It’s all like* –

Jonathan: What’s for dinner?

Me: Can I bulk order oil pastels? And can I really call it “mixed media” if it’s just in monochrome with oil pastel added? Should I add washi tape? Hey, I need to bulk order Instax film, too…

Jonathan: It’s fine, I can just eat a can of soup or some peanut butter with apple slices.

[*Not really. Usually dinner is late or scary because of CHILDREN. So…]

Whatever.

One of these “Oh, I wonder if…” ideas has stood up to the intense scrutiny involved (Is it dangerous? Will people point and laugh? Am I going to lose money on this?!?) – PROJECT:PLAYTIME.

Not gonna lie, I was already actually seriously planning a project portrait session with a friend. I may have taken it to the next level, though, because I’m determined to do 2 sets of minisessions.

Right now, it’s looking like I’ll shoot at TheBarn (my house, in Columbiana) on May 2nd and in Jasper on May 16th. If those dates don’t work for you, we can talk about alternate dates.

Now, I have a feeling that you may be asking, “Shoot what?” and some other questions.

My plan is to have a nice, safe, fun spot set up for fingerpainting (I can provide brushes, too!) a picture frame and a few pieces of heavy (possibly watercolor) paper. The paint I’m planning to use is nontoxic and washable from skin but not-so-much from clothing, so I suggest wearing clothes you’re not worried about getting painted. (I will have aprons and wipes and you will be dry – if not paint-free before you have to get back in your car, I promise.) I will shoot for 15-20 minutes while you (or your kids, whatever) paint. You’re not required to get as messy as my kids do, but, really, I don’t see why you wouldn’t.

More details:

– Sessions are $75.

– Shooting will last for 15-20 minutes, with the understanding that you’ll most likely be on-site for 45 minutes to an hour.

– You’ll keep your frame(s) and any additional papers decorated. I will photograph your frame(s) and paintings for use as backgrounds in your book.

– I will compile a 6×9 paperback book of images from your session.

– Digital files, extra book copies, and prints will be available for purchase. (I’m still trying to work up the special pricing.)

– If you want extra frames or extra time or specific poses, those will be available but will involve an add-on fee for your deposit.

– Because I will need to purchase supplies, you will be required to pay a deposit via PayPal (I will invoice you). The balance of your session fee will be due before you get your preview images.

– If you want to do a group/cousin/family sessions, we will work out a specific plan and adjust time and pricing and supplies as needed.

– I may need helpers; you would be eligible for a discount (or extra goodies) if you help!

If you have questions, please feel free to comment here or email me. Follow along on Instagram (@themeganfloyd) or on my Facebook page!

proceeding with satisfaction

I’ve been making notes and pondering what to develop as business plans this year. I’ve knocked “actually make money” right off the bottom of the list and just want these ideas to pay for themselves and be satisfying. I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating how my ideas line up with (or distract from) my theme this year of understanding how to be a good steward of my resources. I’ve had to fight with myself a lot, because part of me believes that deliberately putting things off is a sign of weakness or fear or lack of dedication. It makes me feel like a flake. Like I’m abandoning talents. Even when that’s not the case.

I’m trying to learn – in my heart, not simply with my intellect – that “Not now!” is a legitimate plan. 

So far, I’ve decided to move forward (in one way or another) with these ideas:

Intentionality Intensive material. I’m not sure what it will look like. I’m adjusting it to fit a new, simplified theme and I’m reading more of the books that have encouraged and empowered the people who encourage and empower ME. It’s on a path right now that makes me think it’s headed back to the TendingBabylon… umbrella??? 

– I’m trying to wrap my brain around a for-real “I want to take better pictures.” and/or “I just want to really keep up with documenting what we’re doing!” photography/archive workshop (or series of workshops). 

– I’ve scheduled a portrait session – or should we call it a project session?!? A friend messaged me about doing photos for her again, and it hit at just the right time… so I agreed. She’s looking for a good project for her kids to do while I photograph them, so they’re distracted from cheesing at me. (REALLY, that is an actual part of our plan.)

– I’ve got a ghost of a writenow kit idea and am not sure how to proceed because of the notebook-order issue. 

– I bumped the bigcartel shop back to the free version, because there’s nothing there. Almost all of my orders come from people I would just give things to if I could afford to just give away all.the.things, so that seemed like cheating. I’m still trying to figure out how to encourage people to do things like push-pin the photo prints to a bulletin board or tape them to the fridge. Maybe I should frame them, or make some sort of display thing (which is an idea that got bumped to next year or later). But that drives the costs up and limits purchaser freedom. So. It goes around and around and I finally just jump out of the way.

Most of what I’m looking at doing has a time:satisfaction cost-benefit dynamic, instead of involving actual money. That’s nice. But it means I have to find real value in what I’m doing – and that value has to extend beyond ME – to stay motivated to not just shelve it all. 

I’m still not settled on a plan for this blog. I thought I would post here a few times a week with what I’ve been reading and learning, but sick kids and chaos kept bumping that down the list. I haven’t even been jotting notes as I read; I highlight passages in my Kindle app or do screen shots! It’s a season of life. We’re busy growing. We’ll slow down and be able to evaluate and discuss. Probably. Maybe. I’ll be watching for it!

saturday was warm

We tried adventure.

Annie was the only kid who wanted to adventure with me. Her idea of adventure and my idea of adventure don’t always overlap, though. She ended up on an adventure with DadDad. I took pictures of plants, largely underwhelmed with my results. I’ve been on the lookout for Project Island (and thinking about business ventures in terms of sea travel – we’ve been reading about 15th-16th Century explorers for school).

Because I’m on the lookout for Project Island, I’ve gotten myself stuck in a rut. Trying to leave room to crop or to add text dumped me over into the rut, and inspiration hasn’t struck to give me something to climb out with.

Oh well.

I did end up on an Actual Adventure.

There’s a caved-in-ish store at the corner of the property. I’ve walked to it once (and that was within the past few months, chasing the boys), but had not really ducked in and looked around. Boys, Brennan, Appy, and I ended up in the store on Saturday – I’m not sure if the motive was more “testing the limits” or “checking the fences.” I was glad I had followed, though. Along the back wall are wooden shelves, caught in a sort of slow-motion fall from exposure to the weather. There are songbooks in one corner.

I think I took “one more shot, goose girl!” about ten times. Brennan had stayed with me but was finished with my adventure long before I was. She refused my request for a(nother) in-the-woods photo and trooped fearlessly back up the hill.

So I took a picture of her trooping.

no school this week

I have big plans for this week. It’s an off-week for school. I’m going to do some sitting on the couch and reading and playing. And then we’re going to do some fun projects. And be glad it’s not cold outside. Well, one day it will be cold. But other than that… 



I’m so thankful for this week. 

I’m thankful today. It’s the anniversary of a lot lot lot of things, but one event sticks out. 

It’s Grandma Artie Mae’s birthday. I think she was born in 1917, but then I think she was born in 1918. And then I think I may be way off. Instead of asking or looking for the information, I’ve been tracing back over the lines of what I know. Then I remembered that we were the same age when our first child was born. That puts her birthday in 1917. 

So I was right. 

Unless I am very wrong. 

*shrug*

the news is no new

I’ve been thinking, lazily, about where I want to head to run into a new business project. I don’t have a solid idea for a fresh journaling kit. I’m not sure where to start with any of my other ideas. No, that’s not true. They’ll require research – that’s where I will start. What research I’ve done so far has opened up more trouble, and I don’t have a grip on a reliable timeline or list of priorities.

Too many ideas is as bad as not having enough.

I laughed to myself yesterday that I would give up business pondering for Lent.

I still have three Moleskine notebooks and three canvas bags, and it makes me feel a little bit crazy. I have all of the information ready to prep a wholesale Moleskine order, but emotionally I’m not prepared to finalize that. I want to determine additional products before I decide on colors and styles of the journals. I want solidly developed offerings listed with the notebooks. I’m exhausted from feeling like everything just gets tossed together by the end.

God is preparing my heart for a lesson. I can tell. I can feel the build. I know that there is something on the horizon. I just have to get there.

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