Where I’ve Been: a multipart update (part 3)

Follow the links to read Part 1 and Part 2!

~

Written on January 1, 2016, the following is a live-actionish journal page in response to my first resolution of cutting down on my internet hours.

Let me tell you, it was a real balloon-deflater to wake up this morning with a very strong urge to open up my computer. I shared a funny story about my son on Facebook late last night, and I was eager to see if there had been any response to it.

That is, after all, one of the fun things about the internet. We can chalk it all up to narcissism, but when I tell a funny story in real life, I enjoy hearing laughter in response to it, and that seems perfectly natural. Checking Facebook ‘likes’ and comments can become a self-worshipping addiction, I am sure, but it can also just be a normal act of conversing with other people.

Still yet, it bugs me that I feel a need to start my day off in such a manner.

I think if I could do one thing in the morning, without fail, I would like to think of God.

I want to wake up praying, and committing my day to Him. I want to open my eyes with a request that I might glorify Him in every single breath of the next 24 hours. I want to lie there for a bit with my heart beating a steady rhythm of gratitude to be alive and to have a purpose and to have the knowledge, however fundamental, of my Creator.

I’m praying that I get to that point and, by His grace, I’ll keep doing my best to resist the urge to go straight to social media before my feet even hit the ground.

I have to admit, I did pop over to Facebook this morning to check my notifications and messages when I got online to search for a recipe, but I kept it under five minutes, and I’m happy to say that I made it the rest of the day without frittering away any of my spare time on the computer.

What I received, in return, was a sweet and simple day with my family.

Betsie was so tired from New Year’s Eve events that she was on her third or fourth meltdown by 10:30 a.m. Concerned about her ability to make it happily through the rest of the day — and, frankly, tired of hearing her — her Papa sent her to bed with my silent “Amen, brother!”

We had partaken in a New Year’s Eve sleepover at my parent’s house in the country the night before and she was just plumb tuckered out. She wailed her way down their narrow hallway to the prettiest guestroom and threw herself behind the iron bed before piling floral-printed pillows up on top of her head.

Following quietly behind her, I dug her out and held her in my arms, trying to help her see the wisdom in what seemed to her like a punishment.

“But will you lay with me???” she sobbed. “Please? Will you lay with me, Mama???

We had so much to finish before our New Year’s feast at 1:00 p.m., but…

this seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin my renewed quest of fully living in my little world.

(After all, Betsie is literally “little”, one of the tiniest 4-year olds I’ve ever seen!)

I pulled up the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack on Youtube and my dramatic pipsqueak was eventually lying quietly beside me on the full-sized bed while I rubbed her back.

With nothing on my mind but what was in front of me, I really took note of her. The bones in her back that I have never personally known were there on my own back (I’ve NEVER been as skinny as Betsie, not even in my premier as a preemie!). The slope of her nose. The eyebrows that look like the quick stroke of brown from a paintbrush.

I wondered what she was feeling inside as the masterful music filled up the room. When I hear those songs from “Pride and Prejudice” I obviously think of love and English countrysides and manor houses and sunrises.

I imagine that little Betsie could hardly find the words to describe what the music was doing to her soul, but I said a prayer that it would build something in her that would be important for her future.

Those tiny decisions we make — decisions to look someone in the eye rather than past them, decisions to postpone our work for the sake of a sad loved one, decisions to turn on inspiring music to turn their thoughts to something higher than themselves — are probably more important than we’ll ever know or be able to measure. This is homemaking, at its core. Making a change in someone’s life by the simplest and  most repetitive of tasks.

The thought comforted me today, and I feasted on the luxury of spending just a short and stolen moment with only Betsie.

I prayed for her, that God would save her.

I then prayed for the rest of my family, that God would save them.

And I thanked God for the chance to even pray, because I KNOW me and I know how easy it is to choose something entertaining over sitting down to meditate and pray.

The storm now completely abated and behind us, the day went on to be full of activity, which is nothing unusual in our neck of the woods, especially on holidays.

My mom’s house is a never-ending flurry of visitors and meals and sleepovers; I daresay she has hosted more people in her cabin-esque house in the woods than the Biltmore in its finest day!

Another huge meal was devoured by another table full of people, and happy lines of seemingly countless little children were parading back and forth through the path that runs through the house. It tasted and smelled and sounded and felt like home, because we were all together.

Soon, we were rising up once more to clean the dishes and put away the food and sweep the floor and straighten up the chairs, tasks that become pleasures when you are in the company of good women, especially on holidays.

And then, just as we were loading up our family and heading home, we realized, to our great first-world distress, that our van’s heater wasn’t working. It was just what we needed to make the decision we had all been wanting to make anyway…

just like that, our bags were unloaded and the decision to bunk at Grandmother’s for one more night was proclaimed; it was an announcement that sent cheers up among the cousins, and it echoed deeply in my heart.

Before long, the littlest kids were playing Uno with Grandmother in a circle near the couch, and backed up against them was a circle of our own, playing Skip-bo and then Phase Ten.

Guess what?

The only reason any of us had to pull up the internet was to check the rules of the game. It was a beautiful night, even though I lost at cards, rather miserably.

Because I’d won at life, by God’s grace and intervention, for at least the first day of the new year.

And now…

I have 364 more chances to repeat this particular victory. Ready, set, go!

 

Where I’ve Been: a multipart update (Part 2)

Written in January, the next parts of this update will list the resolutions I made in 2016, followed by journal entries cataloging my success (or failure).  You can read Part One of the series by clicking here.

~

I don’t always believe in “New Year’s resolutions”. Some years I have played it cool, like, “my resolution this year is to spend EVERY day like it’s the first day of the year”.

Or “my resolution is to not make a resolution.”

But I just cannot deny, however philosophical I’m feeling, that there is something wonderfully new and inspiring about January the first.

It’s like those days when I take a damp washcloth and wipe down the large chalkboard in our homeschool room. Even the kids appreciate this act of cleanliness and we all “ooh” and “aah” for a bit over the vibrant, fresh slate before us. It’s so pretty, after all. It’s so green.

Who will dare be the first to mark on it?

What shall be the first thing we write?

The new year looks very much like that chalkboard on the morn of January the first, and I’m sort of a superfan.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not playing it cool this year. I have a ton of resolutions.

~

Resolved 1: Get off the internet. Well, sort of.

One day, not so very long ago, my 8-year old son asked me what my favorite thing was to do.

“What do you think my favorite thing is to do?” I countered.

“Be on your computer,” he answered, without batting an eye.

OUCH, mister.

I have to admit that it stung a little because, even though I am a devoted(ish) writer whose “work” is on a computer, I have never wanted to be the mom who is forever behind a screen. I have tried very hard, from day one, to “cherish every moment” and to be a “hands free mom”, but you know what, writing times aside, there are just so many days when you accidentally find yourself wrapped up in something stupid on the internet, out of mindless habit.

You can really objectively see it, can’t you, when it is someone else? They have an i-phone in their hands and people are saying their name and they can’t hear or focus on anything other than the Facebook page they are perusing, the tweet they are composing, or the Youtube video they are watching. It looks so distracted. It looks so modern. It looks so typical. It looks so…blech.

But when you’re the one BEHIND the screen, and your mind is filled up with what you are reading — and you are so thoroughly entertained and engrossed and entrenched by all twenty tabs you have pulled up on your computer!! — you lose track, somehow. An hour feels like five minutes. Two hours feels like seven minutes. And an occasional “check-in” somehow turns into an entire day of refreshing a page and checking notifications and messages.

I daresay the internet and all of its charms has held a viselike grip on me during certain seasons of my life, stealing my moments until they pile up into days, and I am always quite ashamed to recall the countless hours I have spent in my lifetime just scrolling over things I’d already read or…had I? It all starts to sound the same after awhile, anyway. How eerie it is to see an old post from months past that I have ‘liked’ or shared that I have zero recollection of ever seeing in my life.

I looked at Gideon and sighed.

“I do like to be on my computer,” I admitted, my brow furrowed in honest thought. “But…do you know what actually makes me happier than anything else in the entire world?”

“What?” he asked.

“Just…watching you guys be happy,” I replied, searching for words to express what my heart was revealing to me at that very second. “Watching you grow. Being with you…”

And that’s when it really hit me – hard!! – that I had habitually been choosing monotonous and insatiable fluff over the things that, in actuality, make me so deliciously full inside.

It’s something akin to the deep-down enjoyment of being thin and healthy over the feels-so-good-but-then-feels-SO-bad enjoyment of eating a box full of donuts from the bakery. You may not be able to remember the difference when you’re at the donut shop, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a difference.

And so I knew, right there in my kitchen with my boy looking up at me from the table, that I needed to make a drastic change…I’d had all these big internet feelings since Thanksgiving…now I needed to set some boundaries that I couldn’t cross.

I needed to take control of the internet before it threatened to take control of me.

Therefore, though I have loosely adhered to this new mindset for the past two months, with a new year before me, it is time to make it final.

But WAIT! It’s difficult figuring out the best way to go about these sorts of changes. How easy it is to just pull the plug completely, losing all the good with all the bad, and that’s something I very much want to avoid.

I have made some incredible – and I mean, incredible – friends through the internet. I correspond with some of my best long-distance friends through e-mail and Messenger. I have support groups online that I thank God for with all my heart. I have a readership on my blog and on Facebook that I absolutely adore.

So…how do we slough off the bad without losing the good?

It’s a process, I believe, that takes honest and deliberate thought, and will probably look different for every single person.

When it came to formulating my own guidelines, I wanted them to be simple enough to keep me in check, but still allow me some breathing room.

Thus, for a normal school day, these are my goals. The plan is not to act as though these guidelines will get me into heaven, but I DO want this outline to be the norm for me:

  • Absolutely no internet in the morning, unless I need to look something up for school or lunch.
  • I may go to my own personal “Internet Cafe” for an hour a day, if I so choose. I am free, during this time, to peruse Facebook without guilt, to message friends, to watch goofy Youtube videos, or to check for sales on my wishlist at Anthropologie. I may have wi-fi all day long, but this is the only hour I want to really acknowledge it. Think “college days in the early 2000s” when you had to go to the computer lab to get online
  • No internet in bed. When I cross into my bedroom at night, the computer stays behind.
  • I may hop quickly online during the day for very specific reasons, such as ordering my groceries or making a purchase at Amazon or doing research for school or sharing a quick story, but then I hop right back up. No surfing allowed. If possible, I won’t even sit down for these things, so I’m not tempted to settle in.

So. Why all the nit-picky rules?

Because, even though I love, love, LOVE the internet, it is undeniable to this heart of mine that my family has been calling me home.

And so I’m going to shut this laptop, and I’m going read books out loud, and I’m going to remember what it is like to sit and pray with nothing distracting me, and I’m going to try to make some good food, and I’m going to hang twinkle lights upstairs, and I’m going to play card games and, who knows, maybe I’ll even dig in the dirt and make something grow. The sky’s the limit, so long as there’s not a cloud drive involved!

The sterility of the internet and the voices of the multitudes should no longer be allowed to hold me captive — God forbid it!! — when there is sweet LIVING to do.

Especially when the only one holding the keys to my chains is me.

It’s kind of embarrassing how the freedom I so desperately crave is just a matter of pushing a button and standing up.

~

This was my first resolution. Tomorrow I’ll share some journal entries that have cataloged my new practices!

Where I’ve Been: a multipart update (Part 1)

Written in December 2015: this is where yesterday’s post, and the 2016 journal I’ll be sharing in the days to come, realllllly started…

~

The world has gotten so big lately.

I live in a 2,000 square foot house in a town of approximately 1,300 people, and yet, from a tiny screen that I can hold in my hand, I have 24-hour-a-day access to every major and minor breaking news story in the entire land.

Not only that, I can also – if I so choose – give ear to every phone-wielding human on the planet, including all 500 presidential candidates.

And sometimes it can all start to feel normal, this new “plugged in” mode of living.

We’ve gotten so used to it, in fact, that many of us can scarcely recall what it felt like to be excited to check the mailbox, or to be stuck on the highway with no way to tell our daddy that we had a flat tire, or to see someone at our 10-year high school reunion and have NO IDEA what they’ve been up to since graduation.

We are updated, to the max. We are connected, at all times. We know everything about every person and every subject, and if we don’t, we can look it up in a millisecond.

That’s not all bad, of course. I don’t miss being stranded on the highway and at the mercy of potential serial killers.

But then, occasionally, these moments of clarity pop up out of nowhere — say, for instance, during Thanksgiving break, when I’m typically away from the internet for a full week — and the drug of omniscience wears off and I remember, all of a sudden, how great it can feel to be a person who lives, for lack of a better term, “outside of the screen.”

It’s like stepping into the sunlight after quarantine.

And it didn’t really dawn on me until recently (this most recent Thanksgiving, to be exact), how incredibly heavy-laden I had become about all of it, namely, the scores of worldwide matters that I maybe don’t even need to know about in the first place.

It was definitely beginning to take a toll on me, and I didn’t even know it.

Does my mommy heart, for instance, really need to hear about every kidnapping in America? Do I need to read about every grisly murder that takes place on our soil? Do I need to hear about which celebrity has posed nude for a magazine today and who has a new sexual preference in their life? Do I need to hear about who is angry with whom and which group is outraged with which and who is calling for an apology? Do I need round-the-clock exposure to sinkholes and earthquakes and tornadoes and hurricanes and floods?

I mean, is it not scary enough that I personally had to take shelter from a tornado in the Spring of 2008?

Can we just still try to deal with that, maybe?!?

And it just makes me wonder…

perhaps we weren’t created to carry the weight of the entire world on our shoulders.

And it’s a feeling that I just can’t seem to shake, this overwhelming craving for the world to be little again.

In the little world around me, the one I actually walk around or drive in, there is a beloved extended family that I am always happy to spend time with.

There is a community that needs my attention and compassion and cooperation.

There is a church where I can invest my life and love.

There are real conflicts that I can actually help resolve.

There are four little faces, new to this world, who need my daily instruction and guidance. And to be wiped.

There is a husband with red, curly hair who longs for nothing more than…well, ME.

And this little world, the one that has been assigned to me, the one that I wake up in on a daily basis…

this I think I can do.

So this coming year, I so desperately want to leave the big world behind — and all of its voices and its opinions and its violence and its outrage — and I want to dwell, not in a head-in-the-sand sort of way, but in a this-is-where-I-live-and-I’m-going-to-act-like-it way — in the little world that surrounds me. The one that I can see with my eyes and touch with my hands and smell with my nose.

The one that takes blood and tears and sweat from my own physical body.

The one that has a heartbeat, or at least a heartbeat that I can hear.

In other words…

I’m going home.

~

Part Two coming soon! 

Where I’m At!

A sweet reader, noticing that I hadn’t published a blog post SINCE JANUARY, checked in on me last week, and I realized that it was high time I popped over here to the blog to post an official update.

Mrs. Gore’s Diary has not been anywhere close to this quiet since its inception in January 2011. In fact, if you would have traveled from the future and told me a half a year ago that I would go THREE WHOLE MONTHS without blogging, I would have said, “What happened?? Am I dead?!?! WHO DUNNIT???”

Mostly because this space on the internet, since day one, has been pretty important to me.

I adore this jotting down of my memories and my moments, and it is so dear to me to have a place to share them both with like-hearted readers who have treated them so lovingly.

So…with all this blog fidelity in my heart, where in the world have I been??

First, do keep in mind that I write over at the Facebook page nearly every single day. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I have a ball there, sharing funny stories, poignant moments, pictures, videos and product reviews – it’s the perfect format for my life right now, and I’m ALSO not exaggerating when I insist that I have the nicest Facebook readers on the whole internet! It’s as happy as Mayberry over there, which is exactly my sort of town, even if it has to be found online.

But if you’re NOT a Facebooker, I can see how you’d probably be worried that I might have fallen off the face of the earth.

Good news!!

I have not.

In fact, I’m here, right this minute, sharing these words! If you could stick your finger through your computer screen, you’d poke me right in the eye!

So here’s the dealio. (and I’ll try to keep this shortio.) (but we all know I won’tio.)

God willing, I have not left blogging behind for the long-haul, but there have, in fact, been several things contributing to my lengthy absence, small things that, whenst added all up together, turn into THREE MONTHS OF BLOGGITY NOTHINGNESS.

First of all, and this is such a piddly and ridiculous reason, my Mac has reached maximum storage capacity, so that I cannot upload any new pictures without finally being forced to go through the thousands and thousands of photographs and videos that we have on our desktop. In fact, I’m not only going through them, I’m editing them, I’m uploading them to Facebook and Shutterfly, I’m sending them to our external hard drive, and then I’m deleting them. The process is so mind-numbingly slow, and most of my holiday and party pictures from the last couple of months are still on my camera, which literally KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT with photographic angst. Thus, when I have sit-down time, I am usually working on pictures instead of writing, which is just the opposite of “the berries”.

Now…have I slowed down with taking NEW pictures to keep this problem from continuing to escalate? No, I have not. I just keep snapping away, la dee da, and soon, our new camera will ALSO reach maximum capacity, and then we’re all really going to have A PROBLEM ON OUR HANDS!!!!! I think I have camera stress as evidenced by my excessive use of all caps. It might be a first-world problem, but it is a PROBLEM. OKAY?!?!

Secondly, and this is much less piddly and unimportant that my first reason, our family has been catapulted into a busier stage of life than ever before.

WHO knew that, when your daily napping infants and toddlers grew to school age and you decided to keep them home and act as their educator, you would no longer have as much freedom to sit in front of a computer for hours and hours and spill your guts to anyone who would listen?!

Call me naive, but I honestly didn’t see that coming. However, with our oldest now in the 3rd grade, our schooling has picked up significantly, to full-time-ish job hours (with a heavy emphasis on the “ish” part).

On TOP of that, our ministry life has also rapidly picked up, with more teaching and meeting opportunities than we previously had; I pinky promise that we are still being exceedingly careful with our schedule to make sure that we keep our family tight and whole, but I’m telling you, we went from about 10 miles per hour for the last 8 years to a cool 75 in 2016.

On top of THAT, with our kids more grown up and the matriarch of the house less pregnant/nursing/newborning than she previously has been, we are also having an unprecedented amount of people in our home, which means that I have another full-time job on my hands: keep this pit of our house picked up!!! Daily!!! And, unfortunately, there is no “ish” to this department of my life. It’s full-time, to the max. In fact, I’m sweeping right now! And boiling a chicken. (Just kidding, I’m sitting and helping Betsie with her school. But there are clothes in the dryer, so there!).

Which leads to the third thing. With the above point in mind, on the heels of this new season of life, I have found myself in a bit of a homemaking boot camp.

Can I tell you something about Mrs. Gore’s adolescence? I was the last child in our family – which we all know means I was very important and celebrated and tended to – and I had a very busy school and social life, to the point that I usually came home at night to eat and sleep. What that means, more or less, is that, when I got married, I didn’t know how to do NUTHIN’.

Mr. Gore and I moved into a tiny seminary apartment that was easy enough to keep picked up, and I began dabbling in cooking and tidying up. But just when I was finding my feet as a housewifey, I got pregnant and we moved back in with my parents for what turned out to be three years – I might have tried to help carry the housekeeping load during that time, but my mom was right there beside me, holding up the universe and making it look easy (while also making me feel like I was doing an AWESOME job at being alive). Looking back, I don’t know HOW much I really did then. Did I ever cook? Did I wash our sheets or did she? I don’t know. It’s all very fuzzy, in a hazy good sort of way, so I doubt that I was doing much, even if I felt like I did.

Anyhow, by the time we moved into our first real home – with two stories to take care of! – I had a toddler and a new baby and mountains of boxes to go through that had been in storage for years. And then I got pregnant again…and then AGAIN…and, well, 2015 was honestly the FIRST TIME I began to come up for air for a very very long time.

That said, this past year has felt like a brand new world where I sort of have these crazy things like, I don’t know, brain capacity and confidence and drive and a SPIRAL-BOUND PLANNER, for crying out loud and, as a result, I’m finally becoming the queen of this here domain.

And though I had performed somewhat decently in my homemaking capacity during those baby-growing-and-birthing-and-nurturing years, I am now intentionally pursuing rigorous cleaning routines and meal plans and laundry rituals for really the first time in my entire life. This is, of course, in between homeschooling.

Conclusion: Dang it, being a homemaker/homeschooler is HARD WORK!  (Even though I LOVE IT.) And you really can’t sit down very often, or the entire operation will come crumbling down on top of your head.

But!

But!

BUT!

Even more than all of the above, there are, in fact, deep and spiritual reasons that I have been away from my blog for such an extended period, and it’s some really good stuff. The Lord has been working very specifically on my heart since last Thanksgiving in ways that have completely changed my life and my practices. I would go on and spell it all out here, but I have actually been keeping a loose journal about it some of it and, if you don’t mind, I’ll let it do the talking.

How about tomorrow?!

And just like that, what do you know? I think I’m blogging again!

it’s good to be back.

The Upstairs and Downstairs of Modern Housewifery

UpstairsDownstairs

Every Sunday night when the season is right, you will find Mr. Gore and me, after banishing…er, tucking in…the children upstairs, settling down into our favorite living room chairs to catch up on the latest drama at Downton Abbey.

This historically-trenched soap opera thoroughly entertains me, and the characters are often referenced in our house.

A lover of history, it is just pure fun for me to see a page from the past come to life on my television screen, and the opportunity to visually become better acquainted with the practices and lifestyles of years gone by is a gift, of sorts, even though the propagation of modern beliefs can be laid on pretty thick, at times.

I can overlook that, though, for the pleasure of hearing Lady Violet’s latest display of side-splitting drollery.

downton

(source)

3af073bb4874ba041641ec4f0a4f4f80

(source)

But as I was anticipating a new season of Downton this week, and daydreaming about the maids who work downstairs and the ladies of society that live upstairs, I realized, maybe for the first time ever, how many tasks I am personally responsible for as a homemaker, in general, and a homemaker with children, in particular, in my home.

The same is true for you, I’m quite sure of it.

Ignore the little fact that Downton is a vastly larger estate than many of us will probably ever even visit on this side of heaven and that our own houses are surely elfin in comparison, and just stay with me for a minute.

For starters, I literally go upstairs and downstairs a lot. We built a two-story house five years ago because I thought it would be “fun”, and when I’m not hauling baskets of stuff from the downstairs to the upstairs, I’m hauling baskets of stuff from the upstairs to the downstairs. And when I say “baskets”, I mean baskets.

But those aren’t the only “upstairs and downstairs” I’m talking about, the literal ones.

I’m talking about how, as homemakers and mothers, we juggle the upstairs and downstairs of an entire estate.

We are the “lady of the manor.” The event planner. The scullery maid. The chamber maid. The housekeeper. The chef. The nanny. The chauffeur. The lady’s maid. The butler. Add homeschooling to that, and we’re also the governess!

And I’m not pointing these things out to whine – puh-lease don’t get me wrong on that! – but, rather, to present a realistic picture of what we’re up against.

Mostly so I can get to this single question: Why in the WORLD are we continually heaping all this crazy guilt upon ourselves?!

What is with the insane, superhuman expectations?

Why do we continually feel like failures because we can’t “do it all”?

Tell me, if Mrs. Patmore was teaching George and Sybbie their lessons and giving them their baths and tucking them in at night and keeping the entire house clean and all the laundry done, do we sincerely think she would have time to make a fancy, gourmet meal even ONE time a day? No way! PB&J for lunch it would be, no problem.

Could Lady Grantham arrive at her nightly dinner party, perfectly coiffed and at ease after a hectic afternoon of cleaning out the automobiles, weeding the rose bushes and dusting the ceiling fan? I’m going to pretend like she couldn’t.

And so, while this silliest of blog posts is in no way grounds for entitlement or pity, it IS a light-hearted attempt to wake you up, woman.

In today’s culture, we ARE the upstairs and the downstairs of our life and we have a LOT on our plates, which calls for some very practical wisdom.

Namely, this: Pick a lane, m’lady.

We cannot “do it all”, every day. It’s impossible.

So instead of habitually trying, and then crashing and burning into sizzling heaps of frustration, why don’t we just start picking a few things to do really well in one day and call it good?

It’s simple, really, especially if you think of it in terms of the Downton staff…

Let’s see, who shall I be today? Will I be Mrs. Patmore, and make a really delicious and beautiful and painstaking meal for my family? And a homemade three-layer cake, perhaps, for dessert? Wonderful! But this means I can’t also try to pull a Mrs. Hughes and orchestrate a deep-cleaning of the house.

Or, if I DO want to be Mrs. Hughes and get all of my rooms tidied and oversee the organization of the entire house, I CAN’T be Mrs. Patmore. I will give myself and my family grace and order a pizza instead! (Or at the very least, pull out a Crock-pot.)

Shall I be Mr. Carson and get all of our affairs in order?

Shall I be Lady Grantham and host some friends for the evening?

Shall I be Tom (circa Season 1) and shuttle us hither and thither, running errands?

Shall I be Mrs. Crawley and fill up my day with good deeds toward the community?

Shall I be Lady Edith and…um…gaze worriedly into the distance? (Poor Edith. God bless her.)

Shall I be Anna and tend to the ones I’ve been entrusted with? Shall I gently brush their hair and groom their fingernails and see to their winter wardrobes?

Or who knows? Maybe I’ll be Mrs. Hughes on Saturdays, so we can start the week with a clean house. Then I can be Mrs. Patmore on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Or maybe I’ll be Mrs. Hughes in the mornings while the big kids do their independent schoolwork and be Mrs. Patmore from 3:00 – 5:00 in the afternoon. But then I can’t be Anna or Tom or Mr. Carson, too.

Or maybe…just MAYBE…I’ll be Lady Mary Crawly and I’ll put on my fancy clothes and I’ll go out to dinner.

Even better? Maybe I’ll be the Dowager Countess and sit in my favorite room with tea and scones and read a BOOK if I wanna!!!

(Okay, you’re right. There’s only ONE Dowager Countess. Forgive me for trying.)

Obviously, I could go on and on with this crazy string of mathematics, but you get the point.

How about we stop trying to be Downton-Abbey-in-the-flesh and simplify things a bit?

How about we work hard at whatever it is that we set our minds to, give it our very best, love the people we’re doing it for, commit the whole lot of it to our Creator, and then…

well, RELAX.

Mistress of the manor, why in the world would you shame yourself for the Mrs. Patmore meal that your friend just described cooking on Facebook??

You’ve been Mrs. Hughes-ing it all. day. long.

Dear lady, how could you possibly feel like a loser to come home to a messy house today? You got a houseful of kiddos ready and chauffered them around from morning till evening! And brought groceries home, to boot!

So here’s what I think you should do, and this is a gentle, Mrs. Hughes-esque order. (Because, really, why would ANYBODY, in their right mind, argue with Mrs. Hughes?)

You’re going to stop pretending like it is possible to be an entire household staff all day, every day. You’re going to put in your hours as one who is working for the Lord, and at the end of a long day, you’re going to focus on what you’ve DONE rather than what you HAVEN’T done and you’re going to feel good that, though things will never be as sparklingly perfect and well-run as Downton, you do a pretty bang-up job at manning the upstairs and the downstairs of your own personal estate.

And then, just for kicks, you’re going to fix yourself a treat, you’re going to set yourself down, you’re going to put up your feet, and you’re going to enjoy a couple of hours of mindless television.

May I kindly recommend PBS?

Sunday, 9:00 p.m., Eastern time.

~

Thanks for reading!

Special thanks to the blog Austenprose for helping me get my Downton titles right: A Downton Abbey Etiquette Primer: How to greet the Earl of Grantham and other British forms of address

If you’d like to keep up with Mrs. Gore and family, follow our page on Facebook!

 

 

An All-American Halloween

A couple of years ago, I saw this precious costume in the Chasing Fireflies catalogue (click on the picture to be taken to the product page).

31257_main

Rebekah was singing by then, and I could just picture her in this vintage-inspired get-up with her chubby toddler body singing “God Bless Am-ayy-ica.” Here, I’ll help you to imagine it better.

So I added that costume to my (sorta sad) Halloween wishlist at Amazon with hopes to someday center our family costumes around it.

Is that normal for people to have Halloween wishlists for their family-themed costumes?

Don’t answer that.

But then, darn it, these kids ’round here started getting opinions.

We did “Red Riding Hood“. (Okay, which I was totally pumped about).

Leaning2 049

Then Mr. Gore had his back surgery and I barely had time to throw this “Hospital” idea together (which actually won us the costume contest that year! BOOM. Mic drop.)

IMG_6720

Then it was “Star Wars“, all for the love of our then seven-year-old son, Gideon.

And I hope you’ve noticed the glaring omission of the Chasing Fireflies patriotic costume that had now been on my wishlist for THREE-AND-A-HALF YEARS.

Nope, no red-white-and-blue sequined number, just a slumping Darth Vader who doesn’t know how to hold a lightsaber.

IMG_8465

It’s like I’m in prison or something.

Thus, even as Rebekah and I conceded last year to what felt like maybe a Holy-Spirit-led Star Wars decision at our costume planning meeting (don’t judge), we both made it clear before we adjourned that NEXT year (meaning, this year) we would finally do it…

AMERICA.

No comments, no questions, no take-backs.

There was only one problem, however.

Rebekah wasn’t digging the costume I picked out for her all those years ago at Chasing Fireflies.

I’m sorry, WHAT????

images-4

Rather, she fell madly in love with a random Betsy Ross costume that we somehow stumbled across at Amazon one day.

In fact, she loved it so very much that she put it on her Christmas wishlist, even though the smallest size was for 9-11 year olds (she was 5).

And…she got it.

Her Grandpa and Grandma, who have this uncanny ability to sense what their little ones will love the most off of their lists, bought it for her, and it’s true, when I asked Rebekah what her favorite gift was after Christmas, she got all dreamy-eyed and sighed “My Betsy Ross costume!”

So I decided to love it, too.

It was way too big, but she adored it so much, and I said “buh-bye” to my little 1940’s USO girl before 2014 was even over.

Maybe the next time I have a chubby and fabulous preschooler who voluntarily memorizes and sings patriotic songs, I’ll buy it for HER.

But, in all seriousness — if we’re allowed to “be serious” when we’re talking about Halloween costumes — it’s important for a mama to learn somewhere along the line that, if she will just GO with it and release her freakish control-freak tendencies, life can be great and maybe even better than it would have been if she had remained dictator-of-the-costumes-and-all-the-other-stuff.

(For instance, I wouldn’t trade the memories of our “Star Wars” Halloween for ANYTHING!)

But before we get to the costumes, there’s one more thing I want to tell you about.

You guys know me well enough by now to know that we wouldn’t just be dressing up on Halloween and then calling it a day. Everything has to have meaning around here and things that happened on this day need to line up with things that happened on that day and ALSO with things that will happen in the future and I couldn’t help myself…

sometime around two years ago, this costume theme began to grow into another complicated vision that I just couldn’t let go of.

You see, I love the 4th of July almost as much as I love October 31st, and most of the characters we would be portraying on Halloween had also, long, long ago, conveniently been featured in 20th Century wartime propaganda posters.

Well, guess what? I HAPPEN TO LOVE WARTIME PROPAGANDA POSTERS!!! Golly gee, who doesn’t?!?!

So here was the plan: as each person got dressed in their costume on Halloween Day, I dragged them out to our shed through the wet grass to try and replicate the posters that we had found of our characters. Soon, I’ll be sending the photos off to a graphic designer to be turned into posters – featuring us! – that I can hang up every July.

Do I exhaust you?

Because I certainly exhaust myself.

And definitely my husband and my mom.

ANYHOW, I look forward to showing you next summer the wartime posters we’ll hopefully have hanging all around our house!

But enough with the whys and the hows and the whats and the posters.

Are you ready to see this year’s costumes?!?!

~

First up, we have Uncle Sam, played by the best of good sports, Mr. Gore.

41ba38a5a16bbaadc3ac936197150539

IMG_2967

What a hero. Not only does he play along with my photo shoots, he then scurries down the street to head up our town’s Trunk or Treat, never once acting embarrassed that he is wearing a taped-on goatee. I love that man.

(p.s. If you are looking for details and links to our costumes for a future Halloween, I have a follow-up post in the works!)

~

Next up! Rosie the Riveter, played by your truly.

83a153afb59b983a3e6d720b2a57b7f7

I spent a good amount of time on Halloween afternoon practicing Rosie’s pose in front of our computer camera:

Photo on 10-31-15 at 1.47 PM #3

The pose was much harder to replicate when I was outside in the cold in front of the neighbors without a mirror image!

IMG_2882

Can I tell you, though, what I enjoyed most about my costume this year?

Most days, I feel the need to cover up my arms with a cardigan, but I was kinda unexpectedly proud on this day to show off my Mama guns as a tribute to the men and women of the Greatest Generation. There were so many vamped-up costume versions of Rosie out there, making her look all pin-up-y and such, but I ask you, fellow citizens, would the women that Rosie represented be trotting all over town trying to look sexy on Halloween night?

Nay, I say!

They’d be flexing their big ol’ arms from working hard and holding down the homefront and toting around old-fashioned, heavy babies, and they might be a little thick in the middle because they weren’t averse to a good piece of pie after supper. In that regard, the role of Rosie was created for me.

In fact, I mentally called my costume “paunchalicious” because the elastic band of my worksuit sat right on my biggest problem area. It was all good, though.

For this night, I embraced it.

I think it must all go back to the red lipstick. That stuff does something for a girl’s confidence, even when she’s wearing something akin to Carharts.

~

Next up, we have the amazing Captain America! I had never seen this particular poster before, but I LOVE it.

dbd2119e59b04ed662bfe97b09d46271

And here’s our “Cap”, about as handsome and inspiring as the original, if I say so myself.

IMG_2890

Gid the Kid loved this costume, purchased for 40% off at the Disney Outlet in Branson, and my biggest struggle was keeping him from wearing it day and night before Halloween. He is still wearing the gloves every day, with every outfit.

I’m just personally thrilled that he’s still cool with wearing costumes. I don’t see Peter Pan much around here anymore, and I was afraid we’d lost him.

~

Next we have the beautiful and industrious Betsy Ross. I couldn’t find a Betsy war poster, but this artwork served as our inspiration.

d0faac361c6f1c08c99062d000f85d97

Here’s our Betsy. Not to be confused with our actual Betsie. This is really Rebekah, my co-heart behind this “America” theme, and the biggest fan ever of the costume she FINALLY got to wear. Special thanks to Grandmother for hauling a sewing machine over at the last minute to shorten the skirt to a wearable length!

IMG_2978

Next, we have the statuesque Lady Liberty!!!

469989bea88c02c0c649fa3f0db6adec

Played by our actual Betsie (not to be confused with our Rebekah Betsy). Betsie loved, loved, LOVED this costume, and I did, too! I can’t help but feel that it went on sale just for us, after years of being too expensive!!!

IMG_2941

We actually did two poses with the Statue of Liberty, and this second one just positively slays me. Betsie is shy in some scenarios, but on costume picture day, she’s our best actress!

8ce13b389a0f57fc760738f5283250c7

(#ohhoney)

IMG_2944

And, lastly, I present to you our majestic national bird…

45a4f0936ec82837d572ada89ff10e41

played by Shepherd Gore!

IMG_3024

I would have made him a nest, but everything was wet, and we had to hurry to get his photos before his 2-year-oldness started showing.

The funniest thing about Shepherd is that he HATED his costume SO BAD. We had tried to put it on him a couple of times, but he ran away from us screaming his head off. I had honestly assumed that he would be wearing his American flag shirt on Halloween night.

Thus, imagine my shock when I was finishing up Rebekah’s photos by the shed and this little eagle came running across the yard towards me, flapping his wings, so he could get his picture made.

IMG_3015

It made me want to say old-ladyish things like “Well, I never!” and “Will wonders never cease?!” It was the best surprise of my night.

So. Those are the official “poster” poses that will be made into our 4th of July decorations.

Now here are just some fun shots we got of each character in between takes.

First, Uncle Sam:

IMG_2967

Okay, so that was the only pose I had of him. I have, like, fifty of that same pose, and you’ll notice in the upcoming pictures that he holds this pose for the entire night. The sky could be falling in on our heads and he would never break character.

Here’s Rosie (these were taken by Gideon, my budding photographer!):

IMG_2886

IMG_2926

IMG_2925

Captain America:

IMG_2897

IMG_2902

IMG_2904

IMG_2905

IMG_2907

IMG_2913

Betsy Ross:

IMG_2997

IMG_2999

IMG_3008

IMG_2981

IMG_3012

IMG_3002

The Statue of Liberty:

IMG_2935

IMG_2956

IMG_2951

and our Eagle-boy:

IMG_3021

IMG_3026

IMG_3050

IMG_3060

Finally, here’s the whole crew. I will cherish this picture forever!

IMG_3035 (1)

And these, too…

IMG_3037

IMG_3039

Psst! Little known fact. Did you know that Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter fell in love and had patriotic babies? They live underneath the Lincoln Memorial.

IMG_3047

It may feel, sometimes, that our country is going berserk-o, but we’re still mighty proud to live here and call the U.S.A. our home. We’ll fight for her, we’ll pray for her, we’ll pay our taxes and we’ll love her. Until she takes away our right to homeschool, then we’re outta here. Haha. Just kidding. But totally serious.

AMERICA RULES!!!

IMG_3041

~

Thank you, DEAR readers, as ever, for making Halloween extra fun for me!! Our Facebook group is my favorite place to go to on Halloween night once the kids have eaten ungodly amounts of candy and passed out on the floor.

If you haven’t already, pop over to our page and share a picture of your costume! And ‘like’ our page to get frequent updates and stories from the Gore family. Happy Halloween 2015!!

A New Kind of Love for an Old Kind of Friend

Mr. Gore and I made a departure from our usual this week…

we WENT somewhere.

Just the two of us.

It was actually one of those situations that sounded like a great idea when we accepted the invitation six months earlier, but as the day loomed closer, the pits in our stomachs grew heavier.

You know this already, but we sort of like it here, in this house of ours on the hill. We like our living room and our comfy chairs. We like our life. More specifically, we like our KIDS.

But we had committed ourselves to this “Pastors Encouragers Conference” hosted by Dr. Ted Kersh’s Equipped by His Word, and we felt it important to honor that commitment.

Thus, early Monday morning, we loaded up the kids, dropped them off at my parent’s house, and began the long trek to Branson, Missouri.

As we neared Tulsa, the temptation to turn around grew pretty strong, but we powered through and, before long, we were pulling into the parking lot of the Thousand Hills Golf Resort in Branson.

It was a beautiful location, but I have to admit that it did little to chase away my unease. Condos and rolling hills are great and all, but have you seen my 2-year old Shepherd? He’s the berries.

12132534_998788653507409_4747903491147089956_o (1)

Why are we here? I thought. How did we get ourselves into this??

But then I shook hands with Dr. Ted Kersh in the lobby of the conference center, and the anxiety that had chilled my heart for days began to thaw on the spot.

As I told Dr. Kersh and his lovely wife, Jerri, on the last day of our meeting, the two of them and their team could have invited us to a concrete slab in the middle of nowhere and it would still have been the “Pastors Encouragers Conference”. In other words, THEY are the Pastors Encouragers Conference, with skin on, and I don’t know how I could have traveled so many miles on this earth without having met them before.

12029602_10156144239045464_3369741418763250071_o

All that to say, what felt so foreign as we were pulling in to Branson immediately morphed into a homecoming, and that feeling of warmth and reunion only deepened as the conference went on.

Over the course of the next two days, the Lord did incredible things in my heart, things I never, ever saw coming.

And at the top of the list is that my husband and I met so many amazing people, forging deep connections with brothers and sisters from all over our home state.

Thus, as we drove back home on Wednesday, I just could not stop talking about the new friends we had gained, recounting the funny conversations we’d had, the sweet prayers we prayed together, the experiences we’d shared, and the specific struggles that we’d found we have in common.

There is no doubt that something special happens when you come into contact with folks who are like you and who share a line of work that is nearly identical to your own; in that room full of men and women who well know the joys and difficulties of life in the ministry, we could walk up to near about anyone and strike up a deep conversation about all the feelings about all the stuff.

Obviously, I was on cloud nine about ALL of it.

But it’s funny how the Lord works, isn’t it?

He is in no way a one-dimensional God, and can somehow encourage AND convict us at the exact same time.

And just on the other side of my bubbling-over joy, there was something at work within me, a conviction, a line of questioning, and it wasn’t until we were about halfway home that I was finally able to identify what was bugging me…

why am I not this excited about the people in my own life?

Because this is a true story: you could take just about any person or couple from my church, set them across the table from me at a conference like this, and I would fall head-over-heels in love with them like I did with all the new friends we made this week.

I would be drawn to them, like a magnet. I’d want to know all their stories and their struggles. I’d want to see pictures of their kids or grandkids. I’d have the best manners and listen intently to every word they said. I’d even spontaneously want to buy them stuff and invite them to our house!

And I’d most certainly talk about how much I love them ALLLLLLL the way home.

In other words, I’d be EXCITED to have met such an amazing brother and sister, and I would count the experience as sovereign and divine.

This shames me, a little.

And I wanted to write about this shame today because I know that I’m not alone. We all do it all the time, don’t we? Aloof, at times — or, at the very least, comfortably lazy — with one group of people, we come alive in other settings with people who are really not that different than the folks we’ve cooled towards.

And I don’t necessarily mean “cooled” in a purposeful and malicious way but simply that, well…we just haven’t taken the time to SEE them awhile. We’ve gotten into the habit of skimming right over them.

So what’s the deal? What’s keeping us from having an excited conference-sort-of-love for the people in our day-to-day life?

I think I have the answer to that question.

It’s easy to love people for three days at a conference. At a retreat. On vacation. On Facebook. In another state.

But when you’re trying to do 1 Corinthians 13 LIFE with people, day in, day out…

well, that’s another story, completely.

And it’s important to note that we’re not necessarily being fakes when we’re around a new group of people. Sure, we are probably presenting to them the very best versions of ourselves, but there’s nothing wrong with that, really. No one slumps and burps and reveals all their grisly secrets to strangers – we’re not wired that way.

No, where we go wrong is in never taking the time to offer this same sort of energy, care, and gratitude with the people we see all the time.

Let’s employ our imaginations for a bit…

If you went to another church and your pastor and his wife were serving there but you didn’t know them, would you just adore them? Would you wish you could have a pastor like that? Would you wish you could know his family better and count them as friends?

How about your godly parents? Pretend like you’ve never seen them before and you met them at a retreat. Would you sit and drink in every word they had to say? Would you go home singing their praises and wishing you could spend more time with them and glean wisdom from their life experiences?

What about the ladies in your peer group? If you were in a small group with them in a place other than your hometown and heard them talk for the first time, would you be excited to have met them? Would you think they were funny? Would you laugh your head off at their jokes? Would you sympathize with what they’re dealing with at home? Would you genuinely wish the very best for them, for the glory of God and for the good of the Kingdom?

Then…

what’s holding you back with the people whose pictures are on your refrigerator? The folks who daily fill up your Facebook newsfeed?

It could be any number of things, really.

Perhaps there is a long-held resentment bubbling below the surface of a friendship. Maybe we’ve grown tired of hearing this person talk about their blessings and/or struggles and have, without really meaning to, started to impatiently listen to what they have to say. Or to half-listen with both our ears and our hearts.

Maybe there is baggage between us and another person, keeping us from wanting to fully invest in a relationship with them. Sure, if we met them for the first time at a conference we would want to be BFFs, but there’s that weird thing between us that feels to hard to overcome.

Or maybe there are no hard feelings in our heart, whatsoever. Maybe we’ve just grown used to each other, like the proverbial “old married couple”, a familiarity that isn’t BAD, per se – that’s part of the joy of being in a family, to find someone you can be YOU and relax with! – but maybe we’ve gone too long without studying and appreciating the gift.

Or, who knows? Maybe we’re just so busy that we haven’t stopped in ages to really SEE the people we do life with. That can so easily happen, can’t it?

Regardless of the cause, I just want encourage you today. Yes, thank God that you have a family of people that you’re comfortable with – that’s a loveliness that shiny new friendships can never compete with! – but when you go to church this Sunday, or even when you walk into your kitchen today, take a moment to see your people with fresh eyes.

Whether it is your peers at church, the retired missionaries that teach Sunday School, or even your own family members…imagine them, as strangers, sitting across the table from you at a conference.

Would you not think you had just met the best person ever???

I can truly say this would be the case with about 100% of the people in our little neck of the woods.

Let’s love them with renewed zeal. Listen to them. Notice what they have to offer – their sympathetic ear, their humor, their passion for the lost, their artistic ability – and be EXCITED about that. Be the lady that you are at the conference in a room full of fresh faces. Be the cheerleader that will point out how great they are, how happy you are to have met them, how blessed you feel that God would allow you, by His great grace, to cross paths with them.

Fall in love, all over again, with the life you’ve been entrusted with and the people who fill it up.

You know what? I’m thanking God that this conviction He has laid on my heart in no way dampens the relationships I made at the Pastors Encouragers Conference. I can boldly say that I made new friends there that I love with a passion, friends that I plan to pursue and cherish forever.

But there is extra grace in these newfound friendships, as they have also revealed to me a sleepiness that I might have never identified on my own.

Who we are at the conference doesn’t say much – anyone can give their best for three short days – it’s who we are in the day-to-day trenches of life with the people we see all the time that reveals who we really are, and I KNOW that I can do better.

Can you?

~

Thanks for reading today and listening to my heart! If you’d like to keep up with Mrs. Gore and family, find us on Facebook by clicking here.

And to discover more about Equipped by His Word, click here.

Howdy Do, from Me to You – Part Two!

Read Part One here

~

SO, as I was saying last week before I was so rudely interrupted by myself, one of the HUGEST lessons I have learned since I started sharing my writings on the internet is this:

priorities have really got to come first (i.e. husband, kids, church, and home before internet), they must be pursued with DELIGHT lest they become drudgery (and sometimes this requires a magical combination of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and determination), and, accordingly, trust in God must be fostered every step of the way.

There have been so many times when my spirit has just railed out in desperation during this season of my life, and I’ve internally shouted out a prayer ceiling-ward of “God, please give me time to write this book!!!” Or this blog post. Or this desperately important list of things that people need to know about me.

When we have passions within our hearts, whatever those passions may be, it can be difficult to lay them on the altar of self-denial and loving-others-more-than-we-love-ourselves.

And what results is a stringent exercise in holiness, finding the perfect balance between giftings and callings…yes, giftings and callings…because I think there is a difference!…and coming to a steady and even joyful faith that, if God wants us to do something, He’ll give us the time and presence of mind to accomplish it.

Simple as that, really.

So, yes! I believe this wondrous thing, with all of my heart! We can trust God with our “birds of the air” stuff like food, clothes, etc., and we can also trust Him with the fluffy stuff, including our dreams and hobbies. If our Creator has a purpose for those things, He’ll do with them what needs to be done. In other words — and we all already knew this in our heads — He has it ALL under control, and all we need to do is just simmer down and follow Him.

What peace!

And the reason I’m sharing all of these things in the first place is because this newfound resolve has really planted a new heart behind my blog and my writing “career.” (Ha!)

You see, during the earlier years of my blog, when a random post I wrote went surprisingly viral, I immediately struggled with the temptation of turning this creative outlet into a machine, of sorts.

Up until that point, I had only been writing for family, for friends, and for my own pleasure, and I didn’t know how to adjust, overnight, to an audience of people that I didn’t know. There were so many of them! And they wanted to hear more from me!!

I was flattered, I was atwitter, and I had no clue what to do next. So…

I turned to the internet for answers.

(Always a brilliant idea, yes? NO.)

All the research I found said I should write *this many* times a week, and keep my blog posts to *this many* words (riiiiiight), and that, cha-ching!, I could make *this much* money doing all of the above.

It sounded exciting!

And during that time, my life, whether I intended for it to or not, began to take on a manufactured hue, and there were days when even I couldn’t tell if I was writing for God or for more readers, or if I was hosting birthday parties for my kids or for Pinterest followers.

It was tricky. Life is rarely black and white, so I won’t do my past the disservice of saying I was a full-out fame chaser who saw dollar signs everywhere she looked. Temptation is more nuanced than that and, as a believer, I was as genuinely trying to serve my God and my family then as I am now.

But, in the midst of my good intentions, there were heavy pulls in several directions. I had gotten this teensy tiny droplet of fame on my tongue and I felt tug after tug to find more of that flavor, and fast! I couldn’t help but feel an eagerness to see where the road would take me and, most importantly, whether or not it could get me independently wealthy!

But, my dearest dears, I have good news.

Through His Word and His Spirit, God has slowly and graciously brought me through the trickiest part of that trickery.

I understand now that I CAN’T write for readers, because readers come and go. (For reals, I’ve lost about as many “followers” on this journey as I’ve gained!)

I can’t write for fame, because fame is a mirage.

I can’t write for the sake of money, because the love of money is the root of all evil and it will poison everything I say and everything I do.

What is left, then, and what should have been there all along, is to write for God, for His glory, for His fame, for His pleasure.

As a result, I am developing an ever-deepening love for the Spirit of God who leads me daily. So kind, He is. He gives me freedom. He helps me to be genuine. And — even better than “going viral” — He allows me to contribute in small and beautiful ways to the Kingdom of God, which is the sort of gift that leaves the recipient speechless, breathless, the works.

And THAT…finally!…leads me to what I want to tell you most of all, and I hope it will bring you some measure of comfort on this Friday morning: as a rule, I don’t write about anything these days unless my heart is truly passionate to do so, nor do I feel any pressure a’tall to publish so many blog posts per month or keep them to so many words.

And what I really want you to take away from that is the assurance that I’m trying not to use you. To manipulate you. To stir your heartstrings so you will ‘like’ what I’ve written and share my blog with others.

The same is true over at the Facebook page. I tell stories as they happen if I feel like it, I share the pictures that grab my heart, no more, no less. It is exceedingly rare that I will think to myself, “Oh! You’ve haven’t updated to FB in two days! You’d better think of a story!”

And my prayer is that, with this mentality at its heart, this space on the internet will always be a safe place for you to come, for refreshing, for humor, for truth, and for, as much as I can offer during this hectic time of our life, friendship.

(You don’t know HOW HARD it is not to reply to my private messages and comments! I want to, OH, how I want to!).

Call me crazy and self-indulgent, but I just wanted you to know these things today.

The world is FULL of people who are trying to sell you stuff, who are trying to use you to get somewhere higher. And while I can’t promise that I won’t ever do that, I can pinky swear that I am at least trying to refrain from it, with all my heart.

Full disclosure for any newbies, at this point, the only money making part to this blog has been my account at Amazon Associates. If I share a product…which, again, I only do when I feel eager to show you something we are actually enjoying…and you shop for anything at Amazon from the link I share, I will get a tiny commission. It pays less than a paper route, but it makes me happy to add a tiny something to the Gore family fund and to make up for all the time spent behind a computer screen. To everyone who does their Amazon shopping through my links, THANK YOU! (It doesn’t take much to make me giddy, you know. I’m going to go look up how much I’ve made this month so far, hold on, I’ll be back…Okay, I’m back. $10.03, baby!! I’m RICH!!!!!).

Anyhow, other than Amazon Associates, I am very picky about shielding my readers from ads and junk and more “stuff” and nonsense.

Why? Because I genuinely cherish you, and I take my tiny role in making your journey more enjoyable very seriously. Hence this 1400-word blog post about that very thing.

Friends, I can say this with an honest heart: I share my “journal of life and life abundant” not because I want to be famous, not because I want my kids to be famous (please, God, no!), not because I’m trying to build a mansion or buy a Volvo, but because…

gosh darn it, life is BEAUTIFUL.

My God compels me to share that with anyone who fancies a listen.

Thanks for being one of those people.

 

Howdy Do, from Me to You

Do you ever bump into someone that you recognize and you might even know their name, but you don’t really know HOW you know them or much about them, really…

only that you know them and they know you?

And then you start talking and it becomes too late to ask them what their name is and where you met them and why you keep hugging each other?!

I have been blogging now for many a year, and I have, by the magic of the internet and the grace of God, gathered up a sweet little gaggle of readers.

My audience is in no way huge, mind you — I always remind my ego that I have significantly less Facebook followers than our local pumpkin patch! —  but since I assumed it would be my mom and my church friends and my aunts and Grandmother reading my writing, I am nothing less than amazed by any increase that comes my way and, consequently, very grateful.

Some of you found me through a search engine, some on Pinterest, some through WordPress, some through a friend, but lately, as I’ve had to keep my writing to a shorter format, most of you have found me on Facebook.

(Facebook is my jam, yo.)

And I realized this week that, however or wherever you found “Mrs. Gore’s Diary”, many of you might be reading my daily updates and have absolutely no idea who I am, what I stand for, what I like, what my policies are, and who the little people are in all my pictures.

Let me take away any of the awkwardness for you and introduce myself, from the very beginning.

(pssst! And if you’ve been reading for awhile and have an acquaintance with our life, let this just serve as an update!)

1. Hi. Obviously, my name is Mrs. Gore, and I am the primary writer, party-thrower, picture-taker, and product-sharer behind “Mrs. Gore’s Diary.” I am tall and sturdy and what I would describe as passingly attractive, thanks entirely to modern technology. I have often said that I would have been a very ugly Victorian with my beyond-awful vision, terrible teeth, fussy complexion, and hair as voluminous and frizzy as a horses’s tail. In fact, when I don’t tame my hair, my husband calls me “Hagrid’s Baby.” All that to say, I am so grateful for optometrists and contact lenses, good make-up, dentists (sort of), and dependable hair tools. Because, you know, it’s fun to be able to leave the house and get groceries every once in awhile.

2. Over the last two years, I have been writing a book about marriage and motherhood. In fact, there is a section in that book about WHY I go by the pen name “Mrs. Gore” (because there’s actually more to it than it simply being my last name! Did you know that??). But if I told you now, I’d have to kill you. And we can’t have that, because, a) I don’t want to go to jail and b) it is important that I eventually have more Facebook followers than the pumpkin patch! (Just kidding. The pumpkin patch is truly awesome – it deserves to be well-known and celebrated). Anyhow, I hope to finish this book soon and start sending it out for publication. I would say I’m “doing my best” to hurry up and complete it, but there’s this little thing at our house called “when the kids go to bed, we watch TV every night and eat ice cream.” I suppose I COULD work on my book after the kids’ bedtime, but…nah.

3. My husband is a Southern Baptist pastor, a gifted theologian and, more recently, a truth-bringer to the foreign land of Tanzania. If I could finish my long book, I’d love to write a short book about our experience with the global mission field – it was big doin’s, I assure you. I love Mr. Gore. Like, LOVE him. Our church is tiny and wonderful and incredible, and…fun fact!…I have actually been attending there my entire life! And speaking of writing short books and long books, I could pen an encyclopedia about our church’s story, but just trust me that I can’t believe I get to be a part of such a tale, a wretched sinner like me. God is good.

4. The Lord instilled in me, from a very young age, the importance of family and setting down roots. And now when I look at my life, I see that He obviously had a purpose for that! If God allows, my husband and I will be so happy to stay in our church forever, with the people who have heaped love and wisdom and care upon us for many, many years. My parents live ten miles from us, and my husband’s family and all three of my brothers and their families live within two hours of us. All of these people are written — nay, etched — on my heart, and if you stick around for long, you’ll see many of them in the posts I share, in the pictures I take, and in the traditions we practice. I am sort of passionate about spreading the word that the grass isn’t necessarily greener down the road, not when the unifying blood of Christ is available in your own backyard.

5. My husband and I have four children, ages 8, 6, 4 and 2. Boy, girl, girl, boy. We have been called to this mission field of hearth and home, and would love to maybe someday perhaps Lord-willing add at least one more pipsqueak to our line-up. We are pretty big fans of having the pittering and pattering of feet in our midst, even though our house is already the living embodiment of “The Family Circus.” The more madness, the merrier, we say. Well, my husband says. I agree wholeheartedly, when I’m not hiding in my room. Here’s a picture of our whole family, our first photo after Mr. Gore returned from Africa…

IMG_0993

6. I am not a perfect woman and, even though I am a professing believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, I struggle with many things, including-but-not-limited-to a weak faith, anxiety, hypochondria, introversion, materialism, idealism, people-pleasing, procrastination and self-loathing. Speaking of self-loathing, I desperately hate my weaknesses, but they do make me long for our forever Kingdom. I used to be terrified of “the end”, whether it came in the form of death or the Second Coming, but I finally understand now (on most days) that I’m not made for this world, and neither are you. And that changes EVERYTHING, does it not?

7. I love, love, love pretty things. White enamel, floral prints, old silver, piles of books, teapots and percolators, ticking stripes and buffalo checks, vintage signage, little pearls and petite gems, birthday candles, roses and peonies and wildflowers, pastoral scenes, church steeples, supple leather, and romantically chipped paint. I have a serious glassware problem, a cardigan addiction, and I have been known to spend entire afternoons in Anthropologie. I have learned in the last decade, though, the difference between enjoying pretty things with an open hand and being ruled by them, and I’m much happier for it.

8. I am a homeschooler. I have a homeschool blog that I update MAYBE once a year, if you’re lucky. It’s important to me.

9. One day I shop at the organic food market. The next day we eat Puffy Cheetoh’s and chicken bits from the gas station. One day I banish all screens from our lives. The next, the kids watch back-t0-back episodes of “Little Bear” while I search for the end of the internet. One week we are on a great schedule wherein the house remains clean, our homeschool boxes are checked off, I write ten chapters of a book, and all of our errands are run. The next we arrive at church shoeless with only a vague idea of whether it is Sunday or Wednesday. I don’t like to think of it as “inconsistent” so much as…moderate. Let’s all just keep it somewhere in the middle, everybody. Excellence is for spelling bee kids.

10. I have many Lucy moments. Like the time I got stuck in the back hatch of our van or the time I met the Pioneer Woman. I enjoy being laughed at, though. I consider it a ministry.

11. Other things I like, in no particular order: Sunday mornings. Coffee. Jane Austen. Classic movies. Doris Day. Bing Crosby. “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Chips and queso. Holidays. History. Country drives. Cold weather. Well-written hymns, old and new. Baby chimps at the zoo (my family has to drag me away). Clean scents. Harry Potter. Humor. Outdoor shopping centers. Aslan. Being waited upon. Being tended to. Having my food prepared for me. Winter coats. Disney Princess karaoke. Sitting at Panera Bread with my laptop and a cup of Hazelnut. “A Christmas Carol.” Kindness. Fat babies. Children’s stories. Cozy blankets. Redemption. Pebble paths. Dark chocolate. Antique shopping. Old quilts. Laying on my back and looking up at the trees. Farm animals. Music, in whatever form I fancy for the day.

12. Strange-but-true factoids: a) The first time I fasted was in college for G.W. to win his second term. I made it three hours. b) I went through a mini depression when Regis Philbin retired. He filled in for Steve Higgins on “The Tonight Show” about a month ago, and I cried like a baby. Seeing him with Jimmy Fallon – the only person who could possibly fill the Regis-sized hole in my heart – was just too much joy for one night. c) I have frequent daydreams about living in a senior retirement village. And I don’t mean in the future, I mean, like, now. Just me and the WWII vets, playing cards and drinking coffee, getting my hair done without having to leave the building, a piano for me and my pals to sing all the old hits…YES, PLEASE.

13. The older I get, the more committed I am to writing. It is my #1 pasttime and hobby. I write every day, in some capacity. Sometimes blog posts, sometimes children’s books, sometimes Facebook statuses, sometimes letters to friends. But the necessary free time for sitting in solitude and writing down your thoughts, I have found, is hard to come by, especially when one homeschools. You see, there are always children here. Always. Which I love. But, yes…children. Everywhere. At all times. Therefore, one of the HUGEST lessons I have learned since I started sharing my writings on the internet is that…

well, I guess I’ll tell you that part tomorrow. I don’t want you to get sick of me just when we’re getting to know each other!

~

Stay tuned, y’all!

Hope for the Introvert

Hope for the Introvert (Because God is bigger than psychology)

Hi. I’m Mrs. Gore, and I am an introvert.

If I didn’t already know that from a fun little personality quiz my FFA instructor administered to our class when I was in high school, I would certainly know it today from the daily article or quiz I see on Facebook about introverts and what defines an introvert and how introverts deal with the world and 10 things you don’t know about introverts and introvert introvert introvert.

These articles and quizzes always pique my interest because, like everyone else, I like to know more stuff about myself and what makes me tick and what makes me “me”.

It’s the American way, isn’t it, to analyze and re-analyze ourselves? We sort of thrive on psychology, especially when it comes to our own personalities.

But the thing I have noticed about so many of these extroverted introvert articles (get it? Because they’re everywhere?) is that, once the information is presented about all-things-introvert, the article ends, leaving you with basically just another explanation from another person of “this is who I am” and “accept me for who I am” and “this is what you can expect from me” and “this is why I poop out at parties”.

End of story, right? I’ve done my part by explaining who I am and what I like and now it’s up to everyone else to be okay with that.

And what can happen to introverts like me who read a hundred articles about why I am the way I am and why I feel the way I feel in social settings is an acceptance that could, if left unchecked, lead to a laziness and entitlement that could greatly damage the health of my church and stilt my Kingdom potential.

Self-acceptance is a good thing when it allows us to rest contentedly in the way God crafted our personalities and talents, but it also is a state of mind that can easily turn toxic, is it not? John Bloom at Desiring God (and one of my favorite writers in the land!) describes this tricky line much better than I ever could. Read his article here.

And, personally, if I’m being quite honest, when I read articles about introverts, I typically feel this heady solidarity rising in my chest…

yes! I am not alone!…

So THAT’S why I always feel so TIRED after going to a party! Aha!…

NOW I understand why I feel a need to retreat to my room after a day with the littles!

I’m not the only one who is petrified of the telephone?! Thank you, Lord! I feel so normal now!…

and, if I’m not very, very careful, I can take this psychological research and this introverted testimonial and I can withdraw to my comfy place, and instead of feeling any pause over this course of action like I normally would, I now feel justified and empowered.

This sort of attitude could surely be dangerous in any person’s life, but believe me when I say that it can be downright debilitating for a believer.

Now, because this is the internet and every argument is met with counterarguments, let me be quick to assure you that I AM NOT saying it is a bad thing to know who you are and to think about how God made you and to know your limitations and to draw some boundaries about what you are capable of. I am sure that many an introvert like myself has unwisely overextended themselves and crashed into a miserable pile of burn-out because they didn’t take time to nurture their heart.

BUT.

But.

As Christians, we can never be content to slap a psychological label on our personality when we have the transformative Holy Spirit working in us to deliver us from the most dangerous creature on the planet…

ourselves.

And who knows? Maybe the typical components of being an introvert are not as precious as we’ve made them out to be.

One of the favorite things I have drawn from my husband’s expository preaching through 1 and 2 Corinthians is the message that we have each been gifted by God to accomplish certain tasks in our local body. He has equipped us, introverts, extroverts, ambiverts, and herbivores, to do exactly what He wants done in the communities He has placed us in, and we can take joy and be confident in that.

But here’s the part that really blew me away: we can ALSO, while working with our gifts for the betterment of the church, look to the gifts of others in our body and pursue those gifts, as well.

And that’s yet another reason why it is so important for us to physically meet together and spur each other on to love and good works because – for instance! – while I am not naturally wired to serve, I can see those gifts in my sisters and brothers, and when I do, I am motivated to follow them and do as they do.

They TEACH me how to serve, so that, in the end, what you get is a girl who, though not normally inclined to be a servant, is serving.

I love this!!!!!!!

And that same principle can be applied to any number of good things that God desires for His children to display.

And you know what? At the end of the day, this biblical call to growth and transformation is so much more exciting to me than the latest human research about who I am and how I am always going to be.

I’m just more and more convinced that…

I want to look like Christ, period.

I want to chase after every fruit that the Bible says I should have as one who has been cleansed by the healing blood of Jesus, and if that pursuit sometimes challenges my introverted heart to die to its natural tendencies and forces me to be in large crowds or to talk on the telephone or to have people constantly in my home or to engage in “small talk” with a loving heart or to pray out loud in front of people I don’t know, then so be it.

And piece by piece, someday, my prayer is that I will be known less as a typical introvert and more like another redeemed person who has lost their natural identity in Christ.

That maybe, just MAYBE, I will take an online personality quiz and break the internet because “Jesus” isn’t one of the quiz results.

(Seriously, how awesome would that be?!)

By God’s grace, I am beginning to understand that, if I will simply be faithful to the Word first and foremost — even if it feels draining or scary — by meeting with my brothers and sisters, by being hospitable, and by showing love always, that I can trust my timorous, introverted heart to God and know that He will take care of me and that His Spirit will lead me every step of the way.

God is not cruel or uncaring, and if I truly need quiet time to recharge, He will ensure that I get it, sometimes, even by inspiring me to ASK for it.

And, friends, believe me when I express to you how this call to holiness has helped me so much more than another article on introverts.

The articles patted me on the head and told me I was doing okay.

The Word and the Spirit help me to grow and to CONQUER the things that, if left to my own devices, might become poisonous and idolatrous.

For that reason, even though I am what the psychological realm calls an introvert, I am learning to pursue some amazing things…

to put aside my solitary work and meet together with my brothers and sisters every chance I get…

to enjoy the loud sounds of my extremely spirited husband and children and to thank God for them, trusting that I will have time later to enjoy some quiet…

to go to loud concerts and crowded events with my extroverted mom because she enjoys it and I enjoy watching her have fun…

to leave my safe house and go to the scary “big city” with my church sisters because I know it will be a great time for all of us…

to answer the phone and be brave and kind even when I feel like I’m dying in the process…

in other words, to not put my perceived needs first, but to live for others, and watch, amazed, when there is still miraculously just enough time for me and my introverted tendencies to heal and rest.

And the conclusion is this…

The Christian life is so much more adventurous than any of the psychological boxes our culture loves to put us in.

I’m super happy to have the leanings of an introvert and I truly relish the blessings that come with such a personality. I’ve never been bored in my life, my brain is one of my favorite companions, and I can’t think of anything that sounds more fun than being quarantined (I could read and write and internet for DAYZ)…

but shame on me if I ever allow a man-made title to weaken my potential for God.

~

I PRAY this was a help to any of my fellow God-fearing introverts.🙂 And if you’re new here and would like to keep up with Mrs. Gore and family, you can find us on Facebook.