Clarity Amidst Uncertainty


Quarantine is hard. The COVID-19 coronavirus is scary. Life looks so different for so many of us. We are all trying to navigate a strange, new reality: no school, no get-togethers, no working out of the house, no casual dinners out, no quick trips to the mall, the list goes on.

It's too early to tell how bad the virus will hit our community. We don't know yet if our measures to distance ourselves from all.the.things is enough to bend the curve. Only time will tell the widespread toll this pandemic will have, so we just have to wait.

Wait with hope.
Wait in prayer.
Wait with grace.
Wait in awareness.
Wait with intention.
Wait in appreciation.
Wait with patience.
Wait in sympathy.
Wait with care.
Wait in community.
Wait with love.

Never have we been asked to do so much by doing so little. And hopefully soon, we'll get to gather with our friends again, and celebrate our survival with big hugs. We will have a new perspective, and we will never forget the time when we settled down and embraced the sacred task of taking care of each other.

Until then, we wish you health, wellness, and peace during these hard and humbling days. Remember, you are not alone.

Love from quarantine,

Holly and Jenn

#keepingitmessy
Holly and Jenn

Love In All Seasons


When you're a child, Valentine's Day means decorating a shoe box to collect fun notes and cards and sweet treats from your classmates. There may even be a lunch exchange or a party. And whether you like all of your classmates, you'll bring enough Valentines to share with everyone in your class. It's an "equal opportunity" holiday.

When you're a teenager, Valentine's Day has a little more at stake. The girls hope they get some sort of acknowledgement from the boy they like and the boys just hope that the girl likes them back. The communication about "the liking" is typically carried out by the friends of the supposed "likee," probably through social media. It's a "socially conscious" holiday.

When you're a young adult, Valentine's Day is about over-analyzing the level of investment of your first serious mate. Your expectations are high and the pressure's on. Your gift needs to represent exactly how you feel for him or her without overshooting or underestimating, either of which could be deadly. It's a "make-it-or-break-it" holiday.

When you're a newlywed, Valentine's Day is about indulgence. Fancy dinners, elaborate gifts, extensive foreplay and lingering passion. You and your spouse are completely into each other and demonstrating your undying love is paramount. If it's IG-worthy, even better...you'll score major bonus points. It's a "more-is-better" holiday.

When you're a parent to babies or young children, Valentine's Day is about falling deeper in love. You never imagined your spouse could become more attractive, but seeing them love your little ones--changing a diaper, singing a lullaby, kissing a boo-boo, telling a bedtime story--fertilizes that deep-rooted emotion you have for the person you've chosen as your partner in all things. It's a "count-your-blessings" holiday.

When you're a parent to tweens and teens, Valentine's Day is about remembering the reason you fell in love in the first place. Life is less about your marriage and more about your all-consuming, completely-exhausting, totally thankless job of parenthood. Even though you're tired and the newlywed luster has faded while the business of life has settled in, it's more important than ever to sincerely demonstrate what a loving relationship looks like. Your children are watching and they need to see that the terms "unconditional" and "everlasting" are attainable and worthy of the work. It's a "put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is" holiday.

When you're an empty-nester, Valentine's Day is about a more refined level of indulgence than during your newlywed bliss. You enjoy life at a slower pace and have discovered a true understanding of what your lover wants and needs. On a daily basis, you act out your vows with more intention and promise than ever before. It's a "slow-and-steady" holiday.

So on this Valentine's Day, please take the opportunity to surround yourself with the people you care about, sharing your love and fostering relationships that will last throughout all the seasons of your life. In fact, the same goes for the other 364 days of the year. After all, there is no limit to love.

{J}
Holly and Jenn

A Word About Motherhood; The Unknown Road


Twenty years ago today, I became a mother for the first time. The journey of motherhood hasn't been anything I expected and certainly hasn't been anything I could have prepared for. Minus the diapering and feeding and daily care, making decisions to work or not work, almost everything else has come as a surprise. Shock even maybe. Even with all the great advice I received, there were still things so joyous, so sorrowful, so confusing and so perfect. Nothing can prepare you for that with children. Little pieces of my heart out in the big bad world fending for themselves. There will always be an ache from that, till the day I take my last breath.

As happy and fulfilled as I am as a mom, the emotion  from that ache can threaten to take me down at times. When I look at my adult son, I still see the little boy trying to go as fast as he can on his scooter, always with a huge smile on his face. Not much has changed, except I can't protect him anymore, from himself or anyone else. The passing of time means something so different now as I move out of mommy-dom and into parenting only teens and young adults. We are at the other end of the spectrum and it feels, well, WEIRD. Melancholy and bittersweet mixed with anticipation and so much love my heart could burst. 

This year 2020, represents a new decade of change. The last decade was a crazy time full of memories, some that still break my heart and take my breath away, and lots and lots of GROWING. My kids went from babies to teens in the blink of an eye. My husband and I got to know each other better. I made the best of friends. We lost some precious loved ones and found out what it meant to be taken down by illness and then to pick ourselves up again. We grew to love Jesus on a deeper level and discovered what the definition of being on your knees really means. It was all in preparation for now. Our kids moving in to young adulthood and moving further out of our control. They can pretty much go where they want and they have jobs and things that they do on their own. They have friends that I don't know and they spend most of their days away without me there to make sure they are eating right and using their manners. I have to trust more and more each year that they are implementing the things they learned while completely dependent on us and that they are kind, considerate, discerning, and trying hard in all they do.

I read a quote about motherhood from Kelly Corrigan that struck me:

"I am your mother, the first mile of your road. Me and all my obvious and hidden limitations. That means in addition to possibly wrecking you, I have the chance to give you what was given to me. A decent childhood, more good memories than bad, some values, a sense of a tribe, a run at happiness. You can't imagine how seriously I take that, even as I fail you.Mothering you is the first thing of consequence that I have ever done."

Yes.

And as we move into the new realm of the unknown, meeting the adults our children are becoming, it gives me a great sense of relief knowing that I took the job of mothering them seriously, and now I take seriously the job of stepping back and letting them move on without me. As painful as it is, I am excited to get to know them as the people God has designed them to be. Its facinating to sit back and watch. And although the control freak in me YEARNS to jump in and save and rescue and protect, I know that these humans I helped to create are on a path to great things and my job description is changing. I'm okay with that...mostly.

Happy 20th birthday Jake. I love you.

{H}

Holly and Jenn

New Podcast...Happy New Year!


Happy New Year and New Decade!!

Today, we reflect on our #oneword for 2020, parenting teens (we NEVER have anything to say about this), pitching book one of the Realm series, and all the promise and belief the new year holds. 

Listen on Spotify or Anchor (no account needed.)

Please share...what's your #oneword? 

xoxoxo

#keepitmessy #freakingfireball #noinlawsyet #oneword
Holly and Jenn

Keeping It Messy - New Podcast Episode

Hi friends,

November is the month of gratitude and we are very thankful for the love and support of our creative endeavors, like BOOK 2!!! Cuz November is also NaNoWriMo and we're 10,000 words into our second book. (Our goal is 50,000 words this month but we've been busy.) 

Today, we reflect on wedding-planning (JK...just Holly's Mike's 50th birthday party which was like a wedding), and birthdays, and parenting teenagers, and moving, and all.the.things. Just a few of the reasons we haven't recorded a new episode in a loooooonnnngggg while. But we hope you enjoy this one. It's short and sweet and we wrap it up with things we're thankful for.

Please share...what are you thankful for? 

xoxoxo

#keepitmessy #gratitudetakesfocus #homeologymakeseverythingbetter #yourewelcome
Holly and Jenn

NaNoWriMo19


National Novel Writing Month is here!! And we are taking advantage of the NaNoWriMo campaign to WRITE BOOK TWO of our series.

We are shooting for 60,000 words in our first draft. Fancy math = Holly and I each need to write 1000 words/day. (We can totally do that!)

And this year, we've joined the South Orange County NaNoWriMo group so we have weekly write-ins where we join other NaNos and share the creative energy of writing together, as well as other fun events.

If you've ever considered writing anything, visit www.nanowrimo.org to get inspired. It's and AMAZING conglomeration of talent and motivation.

Our NaNoWriMo19 project begins like this...

Chapter 1 - John
The cool morning breeze blew in through the open balcony doors. John’s dark hair fell into his eyes. It had gotten so long over the last few months. Along with a beard, he almost didn’t recognize himself. Staring over the rolling hills below his room, the impossibility of the moment overtook him. Could this truly be real? Aervon was his kingdom. His? As far as he could see to the horizon - the majestic Thulle Mountains to the east and the Ninah Sea to the west - all of it would soon be under his rule. He should be feeling magnificent. But he wasn't.

What do you think? Is this something you would read? We're happy for feedback.

Happy NaNoWriMo19!

{H&J}
Holly and Jenn

Ditched Again on Halloween


Happy Halloween! What a fun holiday, especially if you have kids who still dress up and go TOTING (Trick OTreating), like all youthful candy-hoarders do. I'll admit, jealous! I miss the annual excuse to indulge in Twix bars and Butterfingers.

When the kids were younger, we dressed them in coordinating costumes. How much say should kids under five really have about their costumes, right? My favorite year, our boys were the brave Prince and cuddly Gus-the-Mouse to match Bella's Cinderella costume. (Photo reference above...SO CUTE!)

When the kids were younger, we used to determine exactly how many pieces of candy they could ingest on Halloween and each day after, for roughly one week. At that point, the Candy Fairy would visit and magically whisk the candy away (except the Twix bars and Butterfingers), leaving a delightful treat in its place, sure to bring just as much joy to our candy-addicts' sugar-overloaded hearts.

When the kids were younger, we'd share a pre-TOTING meal with friends - chili, salad, cornbread and some sort of Autumn-blend, micro-brewed beer. Then we'd take pictures with ALL the neighborhood kids before setting out through elaborately decorated streets, dodging ghouls and collecting goodies, all the while capturing photos and video at each doorstep and reminding them of their lines: "Trick or Treat" and "Thank you!"

When the kids were younger, we had a little more control of the Halloween festivities. But now that they're older, the holiday has taken on a new feel. Today, our kids have their own ideas about costumes, their own parties to attend, and none of the festivities include mom and dad following closely behind with a video camera. It's okay. Really, it's fine.

These days, Halloween is a different kind of holiday and, I'll admit, I'm a little sad about it. Not simply because they're growing up, but because the festivities lack the luster when the kids aren't around. So friends, keep those kids close and gobble up those Halloween memories. You never know when it's going to be the last one with them.

Happy Halloween! I'm going to make myself a cocktail and have a Twix (and maybe a Butterfinger.)

{J}
Holly and Jenn