Antique Stores and Such

I’ve always liked to pilfer through old stuff. My mamaw’s Victorian house was chock full of amazing objects. There were old records, shoes, and pictures stacked under chairs and on window sills. Really any flat surface held something. A giant closet beneath the staircase filled with coats was at least 8 feet deep.  Untouched bedrooms held posters, board games, and clothes from eras gone by.

My cousins and I would sneak off to play hide-and-seek but then get lost in game of searching. That may have led to my love of antique malls and flea markets. Though I know Mom and  I spent many Saturday afternoons at flea markets. Perhaps it is just in my DNA.

At any rate, when we moved back to Lexington we discovered a little store called Feather Your Nest and fell in love. They have a collection of booths AND free coffee.

All photos by Kiley Shepherd

 

Hello?? Free coffee and antiques?

Yes, please.

There is just something comforting in history. I love imagining where items were before they ended up in the store. I enjoy wondering what stories a tea cup has overheard, whose fingers wrapped around it’s delicate handle. 

 

I have a jar of shells at home. We collected them on a trip to Dauphin Island a few years ago. I remember my toes digging in the sand finding shells, the kids coming and fishing them out. Mom held the bucket and they plunked them in. Liam and Spencer pretended they were money. Lee was out in the waves with Dad and Erik.  It’s one of my favorite memories.

I wonder if my jar of shells will end up in an antique mall one day.

Wandering around stores like this is like wandering around in someone else’s memories. I can imagine the housewife tying on her yellow apron, or a salesman putting on his fedora before he walks out the door. Their lives fascinate me but so do their dreams. What did they want out of life? Did they get it? Who remembers them today?

 

 

 

 

I’m not sentimental over objects, generally speaking. I tend to enjoy memories more. There are a few objects that I do love. My mother’s original wedding rings are special to me because they are one of my earliest memories. I remember watching her spin them on her ring finger with her thumb.  I also  remember the feel of the prongs holding the diamond as I played with it. I loved playing with her delicate fingers when I was small. I thought they were so beautiful. I still do, in fact.

My Dad had a nail brush, and still does. A thick white, two-sided brush. I still use it on my boys. I remember it sitting on the edge of our sink throughout my childhood. Dad likes clean fingernails but also hard, dirty work. He’d come in from outside, covered in sweat, and go straight to the restroom to clean up. Even then it reminded me of my Grandpa.

I also love my sweet husband’s journals. I tease him about them sometimes but they’re one of my favorite things about him. He is a poet, a real romantic, and has filled leather journals with his thoughts and prose. I adore how sensitive he is. His love of the written word was a surprise to me when we were young. 

 

Who knows where those things will be in 50 years. Who knows where I will be?

Today I am here, in my house, with my little boy and little dogs. I think we’ll go for a walk after we argue about Minecraft. Then we’ll all have dinner and it will be noisy and loud and I’ll wonder why I neglected manners so much.

Then I’ll realize it’s more fun to join in.

I can go to the antique mall for quiet.

 

Be brave, misfits.

You know where to go if you need a free cup of coffee and time to meander through a stranger’s memories.

 

 

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Sunday Thoughts

It’s a rainy Sunday here in Kentucky.

Perfect for staying in bed and spending lots of time with my thoughts. I find myself thinking a lot about God’s goodness,  his grace. I ponder how he loves completely even in the midst of this broken not-quite-right world.

Some days I find it difficult to reconcile.

A few weeks ago at house church we talked about struggle and what our struggle means in light of Christ’s struggle on the cross. I often compare my first-world struggles to those of people in war-torn, far away places like Aleppo or Nigeria. It fills me with shame that I lament the loss of a secure future when there are people starving to death. My worries over pension plans and 401K’s feel selfish, and I suppose that they are.

In American culture, though, that’s the thing, We work for security for ourselves and our children, and before we know it that’s where we’re putting our hope.

At least that’s how it is for me.

We’ve been hoping and praying for a new job for Lee. One that will fulfill his purpose and provide for our security. He suffered a blow this week when he found out that a position he had been working toward was given to someone else. He didn’t suffer alone. I hadn’t realized how much hope I had put in that job. It was going to save us, I just knew it.

In my sadness I often rail against the Lord. He can take it and I sure can dish it out. Then he always comes in with these quiet, convicting comebacks that leave my heart pierced. 

He told me, and I know it’s true, that we’ve been putting our hope in a new job, in more money. He talks to me in a quiet voice so that I have to listen. This annoys me. I like shouting and billboards and neon signs. Quiet requires quiet.

I think that’s his tactic.

Jesus is the best at behavior management.

He reminded me quietly, gently that my hope is in God. Period. That’s it.

 

“God is our refuge and strength,a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.”   ~ Psalm 46: 1-2

 

Struggle is part of this world. In fact, Jesus promises us trouble. It’s how we respond to that trouble that makes the difference. 

We can’t deny struggle. That only delays the inevitable pain from it. We can’t make it too big, either. Giving struggle more attention than necessary causes it to grow larger than it really is.

Acceptance is the only way to go. Accept the struggle we’re each in, whatever it is. Then, knowing that the God of hope is with you, keep going. 

I know that sounds all footprints-in-the-sand, but Truth is Truth.

God doesn’t want me to feel ashamed of my response to struggle, either. He knows me, he knows how I work and he’s okay with it. He knows that each thing I move through softens me, makes me more like Jesus. He is patient and good and doesn’t push me along.

My walk with Christ does not need to be fraught with tension. There is no condemnation from Christ. If I’m feeling that I know it’s time to seek him and his answers.

He is teaching me so much about resting in him, knowing him, and trusting him. It isn’t the way I thought it would look at all.

Not long ago I fell back to my old way of thinking. The way that said I was in my position because of how God felt about me.

Believing that my circumstance are a reflection of how God feels about me is lie of the enemy.

That is not true. Where I am at physically, emotionally, or mentally or not an affliction that God has put on me. Yes, he allows me to move through difficult stuff. That’s life here on earth, though.

How God feels about me won’t change my situation. God’s feelings for me, should I choose to recognize them, will only change how I respond to my situation. 

The trap of the theology that God gives to those who deserve it is deep. If I believe that I am in my difficult situation because of something I have done, something I deserve, then what about those starving people in Africa? The children of Aleppo? The innocents caught in horrible places in my own city? What is that they have done to deserve their fate?

Nothing.

We were born where we were born and God loves us each the same.

He loves the people in Aleppo, Africa, cooperate America, brothels, and prisons. He loves everyone the same. It isn’t God’s love that’s confusing for me, it is the world that’s muddled. I get that mixed up sometimes.

There is no earning his grace, he just gives it.

There is no gaining God’s favor, it just is.

It’s all there for the taking waiting for our response.

Our pain is real, the battle will always be there. It will take different forms and shapes for every unique individual. Struggle will always be a commonality between us human beings.

Grace is bigger. Goodness is bigger. Love is bigger.

I like that commonality even more.

It is the Truth that God is bigger than all of the wars we wage that allowed Corrie ten Boom, Anne Frank, Dietrich Bonhoeffer to write words hope from dark places. It’s that Truth that pushes us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and smile at a stranger. Those acts are responses to struggle AND the Light of Christ.

Maybe we need that combo?

Maybe struggle forces us to dig deeper?

Perhaps my struggle for security coupled with the Light of Christ is what allows me to my hope in eternal security. 

There is no shame in weeping or gnashing of the teeth. I believe that’s necessary.

How I respond inwardly to struggle though, there’s where it gets me.

Do I turn to God for answers or towards the  world? 

The big question, among the many,  I am asking myself today is this:

When people see me do they see my struggle or do they see Jesus?

More importantly, when the people I live with see me which do they see?

That last one gives me something to build my week on.

 

Those are my Sunday thoughts, the ones I caught before the rain went away. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions, too, or maybe you’d share your own Sunday thoughts?

 

Be brave, misfits.

Ask the hard questions.

Then wait for the quiet answers.

 

 

 

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Education is Not an Emergency

I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with a fellow homeschooler where the conversation doesn’t fall into our curriculum choices, where we’re at, and what we’re working on. It’s to be expected. I mean, we’re somewhat isolated, no one taught us how to homeschool, unless you count the school system you were educated in.

The best thing that ever happened in my homeschool life was meet homeschoolers who would tell me the truth. They didn’t give me the jive that you learn to give strangers in public. They were honest with me about how much time they spent doing seat work, what they struggled with, what they did well.

These other mothers choosing to be transparent with me made a huge difference in how I homeschooled. They all echoed the same thing: “It will come when it comes.”

Meaning, sure you can push your kids to read, write, memorize, etc., but they’re not going to grasp the information until they’re developmentally ready.

It took me a while but I finally figured out that education is not an emergency.

At the beginning of our homeschool journey 14 or 15 years ago I had the kind of confidence anyone who has done a lot of reading on a subject has. I was armed with books that told me what my child needed to know when and was prepared to stuff my little kindergartner full to the brim. By second grade she and I both felt confused about the whole ‘school’ thing.

For me, her education was not going the way the books said it was. For her, her education was not going the way her brain said it should go.

I suspected dyslexia was part of the problem, but my intuition also told me that there was something else at play. My little one had things to explore, things to do, and I was holding her back with seat work and hand writing. I was impeding her development.

So I let her go. She and her little sister spent most of their waking hours outside, creating an imaginary world, learning about how nature worked on their own, and climbing trees. I started reading Charlotte Mason and John Holt, but also just watching them. I answered questions as they came up. We learned to identify birds and trees together. We attempted to garden.

In fact we attempted a lot.

I have a headful of unfinished projects, and a handful of favorites that stuck.

I found that I was learning right along with them, and by the time our number 3 child was school age playing was a huge part of our homeschool lifestyle.

I wish I could say that it was easy, or idyllic.

It wasn’t.

I still struggled with shoulds and have-tos in my own life and I pushed that onto my kids.

Some of my favorite memories of learning at home with my children revolves around read alouds, impromptu puppet shows, tea parties, and breakdancing. Those times were punctuated, though, with moments where I forced things on them because I thought I should, or felt we had to have a certain subject mastered. There were tears, from me and them, and more than a little reluctance about school.

Some friends thought that tears were a normal part of learning. I wasn’t convinced.

Of course, sometimes you have to do things that you do not want to do. That’s part of life. Kids are natural learners, though. They are instinctually curious about the world around them, how things work, and want to get to the bottom of the great ‘Why?’ They also want to please their parents. Those are their two main drives. So why make them compete with each other?

On a side note, I was also coming to the realization that my kids had a learning issue that was keeping them  from moving forward the way the books said that they should. I had thought that perhaps my teaching was wrong, that I just needed to do it harder.

I learned the hard way that gentler was the way to go.

All of my kids have dyslexia, just like their Dad, and some struggle with dysgraphia and dyscalculia, too. Sometimes sounding words, decoding, came easily, and other times it was like they had never encountered the word before. Copying was possible but tedious. Painfully tedious. Memorization was impossible. My husband’s sad story of being the only child in his 3rd grade class to miss the ice cream party for not memorizing the multiplication tables breaks my heart.

I refused to be the one breaking my children’s hearts.

A friend said to me, “If they haven’t memorized the multiplication tables by fourth grade, they’re not going to. Just let them use the multiplication chart.”

In other words, give them the tools to succeed.

Over the last 14 years my whole educational philosophy has shifted. I rarely think of ‘school’ as sitting down at a table and doing worksheets. I’m not afraid to change things midstream or research other ways of doing something. This year chemistry has thrown my daughter for loop, something that I cannot really offer a lot of help on. I can encourage her, though, and enjoy listening to her excitedly tell me about a different way she learned of doing things.

What I’ve learned is vast. I’ve learned that when my kids make huge leaps in learning, like reading or math concepts, they need time to process and reflect. Mastering a concept does not mean it’s time to push them forward. They need to play with the newly acquired information, to feel it out and experiment. They need to learn what they like about it, what they don’t like about it, and where they can apply the information.

It felt scary to let them take the lead on some subjects, especially the ones that are the hardest for them. There are times that I have to force intention into our days. We are all happier with rhythm. That said, kids have an amazing ability to learn if we let them. I need to provide the materials but let them chart the course.

I’m loving history but Spencer, who is 13, was not loving it. After a couple of weeks of frustration I asked him what DOES interest him about history. He immediately answered that he wanted to learn more about inventors and scientists during the colonial period.

Of course that’s what Spencer wants to learn about. He doesn’t care about wars and battles and Kings and Queens. But he’ll learn that stuff as he learns about what he’s interested in because that’s how information is acquired.

All I had to do was ask. He already knew what he wanted to learn about. He didn’t need me to tell him what, he needed me to show him how.

Take some stress out of your life and remove the 911 from your homeschool. I know it’s countercultural, I know it feels like people are breathing down your neck waiting to see what your kid knows. It doesn’t matter what others think of you and your life.

Education is not an emergency.

Write it down, heck tattoo it somewhere if you need to. Know that they will get what they get when they get it.

Be brave, misfits.

Go learn some stuff together.

 

Home Again

Our family traveled a lot when I was a kid. We took short trips, long trips, and sometimes just day trips. I loved going, seeing new places, but also knowing that we shared the same sky, the same moon no matter where we were. I can sleep so well in a car, probably because of all that traveling. One of my favorite memories is lying in the back our big yellow van, my head against the wall so that I could see out of the window above my head. I would sleep that way, only waking when when we slowed down to turn into our neighborhood.

The big hill that leads to our house is lined with trees and streetlights and is as comforting to me as home. I would open my sleepy eyes and know exactly where we were, which neighbor’s house we were passing. As we pulled into the drive my parents would chant, “Home again, home again jiggity jig!” Even today I feel myself relax as I drive up that street.

It’s funny to me that I never wanted to move away from home. I mean, I wanted my own apartment as I got older,  but I never thought about living in another city. After Lee and I had been married for a couple of years a job opportunity came up that would require us to move. Every cell in my body wanted to stay in Lexington but I knew that Lee needed this.

So, we moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.

The first few months there were scary and lonely. Driving in Knoxville terrified me, and I learned lots of back roads to avoid the interstates and heavy trafficked roads. Because the radio in my old black Volvo didn’t work I had to sing loudly to distract my babies and myself from my panic at sharing the road with so many trucks. Old hymns, Mary Poppins, and Queen make up the soundtrack of those days.

Moving made me brave.

I was able to travel I-75 because I knew that home was at the other end. Going to visit my parents gave me courage. On the return trip knowing that Lee, our house, and our little life were all waiting for me made my goodbyes less bittersweet. It’s funny how fears abate when you have people waiting for you. They give you mission.

We moved three more times, twice two new town, and each place I fell in love with. I enjoyed learning the history of our new town, local favorites, and hidden treasures. I stopped thinking of Lexington as home and more as the place that I grew up. Two years ago when we moved back I couldn’t help but contemplate home, and what that means.

I was reminded of all the coming-of-age novels I read where the main character moves back home and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. I always wondered what it was like to move back home after redefining yourself in another place.. No one knows what you were like in high school, or about your brothers, or what you and your best friends like to do. You don’t run into people you know at the store, at least at first, and you can switch hairdressers easily. Everything is new, and that can include you.

Moving back home, though, was so different than I thought it would be. Living in my childhood home, roaming the streets of my neighborhood with my own children, is much more grounding than I had imagined. On our daily walks we step onto the same corner that was the meeting spot of the neighborhood kids. Even though someone else lives there the house across the street is still ‘the Leggett’s house’ to me and my parents.

My handwriting, in permanent marker, is in the closet of the bedroom my girls now share. My boys’ swing set is where me and my brothers played for hours. Neighbors who knew me from childhood stop me and we condense our lives into a ten minute chat. We wave goodbye, filled with memories of a picturesque past.

Moving back to the town where I took off my training wheels for the first time, where I learned to drive, and where I got my heart broken for the first time made me brave again. While a new place can give you the freedom to be someone a little different it can also sweep you up into a current that’s not your own. We’ve had some heavy stuff happen, which caused the shoulds and have-to’s to become even more weighted.

Sometimes you just keep functioning and don’t realize how big of an influence fear has become.

Moving home gave me the space to face that. Moving home gave me space to find my courage again, to remember that no matter what happens in my life I have a place within me that houses my ten year-old self. The me that knows riding down a hill with no hands is possible, the me that doesn’t care about skinned knees or climbing too high will always be there, waiting. Fearlessness that reins freely in our youth isn’t grown out of. Rather, it is covered up under the guise of maturity  and responsibility, making us think we’re grown ups.

Audacity is always waiting for it’s moment to shine, though.

Coming home made me feel that again. Watching my youngest learn to ride his bike with only two wheels on the same sidewalk I did unleashed it. I’m probably not going to ride my bike with no hands today, but my heart is lighter, more able to be in the world.

Life is short but fear makes it shorter.

Today courage means filling my life with relationship that make my life messy, embracing inconvenience and taking heart in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. Pushing through the uneasiness that comes from going against the grain of this life is not always easy but my days feel longer when fear is not in charge.

God knew that I needed the shelter of home to find my courage again. It’s not about the place, or the house, or the neighborhood, either. Those things are nice but home is something inside, a notion that dwells within. It’s about being able to remember who Christ says I am, and for me that’s easiest to do when I think about who I was as a kid. I wasn’t weighed down by shoulds and have-to’s and didn’t hold back my love.

I am home, again.

Home again.

Jiggity jig.

 

 

I’m curious; how do you find home? Is it a place or a time? Does home make you brave, too?

 

Life is Good

So I went to see Twenty One Pilots with my girls.

As in my daughters, Kiley and Laurel. They’re 19 and (almost) 17.

We bought these tickets 8 months ago, paid entirely too much money for them, but it was so worth it. When we were feeling rough, or down, one of us would remember that we had a concert to go to in March. Back in October that felt so far away – last Wednesday I realized we were there, that it was time.

My most favorite part of the whole thing was watching my daughters. Observing them getting ready, putting on their make-up, giggling and taking pictures of each other.  I was even drawn into that world for a little bit. I put on eyeliner, which is a big deal for me. I will divulge the I had picked out a new flannel shirt so that I would look cool at the concert. Unfortunately it didn’t fit. I think I accidentally bought it in the juniors section. (Insert sad face)

I put in contacts and a applied a second layer of deodorant, and stuffed the essentials into my pockets: earplugs and extra poise pantyliners.

I bought earplugs for all three of us, though I was the only sensible one in the group. I went to a Garth Brooks concert almost 20 years ago and did significant damage to my hearing, as in I have tinnitus now. These earplugs, called Hearos, were a life saver for me at the concert. Because I’m familiar with Twenty One Pilots songs, and may have done an embarrassing amount of watching concert footage I knew that jumping was going to be part of the evening’s events. Thus, the extra Poise pantyliners.

Sadly, this post is not an advertisement for earplugs or pantyliners. I just want you to be in the know.

We found our seats, which took some doing, and then the girls wanted to wander around and spend some hard earned money on over-priced stuff. I sat in my seat people watching, eavesdropping on conversations around me, and smiling. That’s my new thing; smiling. I try and keep a smile on my face when I’m just sitting around. Laurel says I look creepy when I do that, Kiley says it’s nice. At any rate, I was just people watching and it was fun.

Whenever I’m in a crowd I’m reminded of the first time that I went to a concert. I was between 4 and 5 I think. It was a Kenny Rogers concert. I remember sitting in my seat and listening to the crowd and feeling like I needed to join in, so I muttered nonsense over and over, mimicking the sounds I was hearing. I also had my dad’s nylon coat over my head because my parents were worried about me inhaling the thick pot smoke around us. But I’m sure those two things weren’t connected.

At the Twenty One Pilots concert I did not feel the need to mumble non-words.

I reminisced  about my first concerts as a teenager. George Michael’s Faith tour was my first. I was kind of embarrassed to tell people I had gone to it the next day, but my friends and I had so much fun. The next concert I went to was R.E.M. and it was amazing.

Seeing a band you love in concert, in person, makes them seem more real. The band you love becoming more real makes their awesomeness seem like something that maybe you, a fellow real person, can achieve. Their art pushes you to dream, or at least that’s what it did for me, not just as a kid, but this time around, too.

My age didn’t matter at the concert. The lights were down, we were all listening to a beloved band sing beloved songs. We danced and sang lyrics together, bouncing our arms and clapping when instructed. It was more fun than I’ve had in a really long time.

It can be easy to believe that the world is a bad, scary place. It certainly can be. Looking around that giant arena, filled with people singing together, I couldn’t help but feel things aren’t so bad.

Go listen to some Twenty One Pilots, dance a little, and remember that life is good.