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Life Lately | What I learned in September

I read earlier this week that it takes about six weeks to get into the rhythm of back to school.

We’re wrapping up week 5 and this gives me great hope because if whoever said that six week bit is correct, then by next week I’ll be feeling like I’m in my groove!

The month of September has been a transition. With schedules, with rooms in our house, with schools and work and – most notably – my heart. Its been one of the best months I can remember and for such varying reasons. There have been great joys and also some very deep moments and realizations and conversations that have been hard. But as my friend Abbie says, hard is not the same as bad. In fact, sometimes hard is precisely what leads to the greatest joys.

Here’s what I learned in the month of September:

I AM OFFICIALLY A CHAUFFEUR

I have been in my car SO MUCH more than ever before.

I guess that is what happens when my four kids go to three different schools and each is in at least one activity and my adorable HIGH SCHOOLER now has a social calendar that has exploded. There was one day this month when I got in my car at 3 and did not get home until after 9. But you know what? I have actually totally enjoyed it. I love this stage of parenting and being with the kids and their friends. I love watching them flourish in all of their things and listening to fun music and enjoying the scenery (September is perhaps the best month of all in the pacific northwest).

I NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN AFRAID OF BEING A MOM TO TEENAGE BOYS

I used to say when the kids were little that I hoped Jesus would return before my boys hit puberty. All I could imagine was stinky socks and awkward voice cracks and coming from a family of just girls, I had no idea what to expect.

It turns out, I really like my teenage boys.

P.S. in case you missed it, this was my favorite Instagram post of the month in which I gushed over my once-naughty toddler who has turned into such a delightful 13-year-old. If you’re in the throws of naughty toddlers, I wrote it for you.

One night, I was carpooling our oldest, Ethan, to youth group. I had six freshman boys in my car and I realized THEY ARE ALL BIGGER THAN ME. I smiled to myself as I listened to their conversation and their deep voices and still-innocent stories. This is my life! I’m surrounded by teenage boys! And I love it.

It has been a month of clearing out of clutter and letting in light

I finished off August with organizing the kids’ rooms. We swapped the boys’ rooms and did a major purge of all the closets, toys, books, clothes. The day the kids started school, Ryan and I began our office switch. This meant more purging (like a ridiculous amount!) and organizing. Just last weekend, Ryan cleared out the garage and finally put it into a state of non-chaos. It feels so good to let go of unnecessary things, to leave drawers empty and closets open. To paint the walls white and tear out stinky carpet. This decluttering and lightening is so good.

We’ve done the same reducing and bringing in light to our property, too. Just this week Ryan cut down a big maple tree in the back and we had a mulcher spend the day clearing out small trees and shrubs and underbrush. We are craving light and it was time to remove the looming forest around us (don’t worry, we still have plenty of trees on our property).

Ironically, this month my mom also asked my sisters and me to help her clear out her closets and we spent the day a few weeks ago going through all of her clothes, bags, shoes, linens. It’s hard to let go of things you’ve been collecting, things with memories or that were a good deal or that you can’t quite fit into but you really want to. The problem is, we spend our time sorting, storing, stressing over our stuff, feeling overwhelmed by it all and yet not able to let it go and resist buying more. It’s an endless, fruitless cycle. One that I haven’t figured out, but have such a desire to. It reminds me of Myquillyn’s new book that comes out next month that I can’t wait to refer to again and again.

This month, I’ve become better at letting things go.

Girls Weekends Are Good For the Soul

These are my college girls. We’ve been friends for 21 years and have met up almost yearly since graduating many, many years ago. We have careers and businesses, kids and marriages, homeschool and new houses, hurts and joys and over the last 21 years, we’ve walked together through it all. Since we all live in different states (except for me and Reagan – the one on the far right who is a phenomenal businesswoman and leader who recently moved up to Seattle for a job at a little company called Amazon), we meet up at different locations each time. This year, my bestie K.C. hosted (the one next to Reagan with the really good arms) in her new hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona. We spent a day in Sedona (how gorgeous is the view from our rental’s front patio?!) and then the rest at her home in Flag (as the locals call it).

Here’s what I have to say about girls weekends: getting away for a long weekend isn’t necessarily convenient or practical – it takes juggling and coordinating, it costs money and means leaving our husbands and babies. But, goodness, it is always so worth it. Taking time to connect with friends, the beautiful rhythm in which conversations move from uncontrollable laughter to deep and vulnerable and then back again, eating delicious food that you neither need to prepare or clean up after, the option to go for an early hike or catch up on sleep – this is good for the soul.

If you’re feeling lonely or like you just need to connect with people your own age, I wholeheartedly encourage you to gather a group together – your sister, neighbor, new or old friends – and get away for a weekend. It will work miracles in your life. 

Healing will come.

I don’t want to say a lot about this one because it is still fresh and sacred, but this month there has been such healing inside my soul. I can’t let this list of things I learned in September pass without at least a teensy mention of it. Perhaps I will share more (who am I kidding? I’ll for sure share more), but just not yet.
All I can say is that for four years I have worked diligently to heal and grow and discover my identity. It has been a journey of seeking help, reading, studying, listening, praying, journaling (so much journaling!) and always wrapped in hope. I have believed that God would show me who He is and through that, who I am. I have believed that all the struggle and deep work would reveal the truth and that at some point, he would set me free from it all. This month, He has done all of this, and so much more. I am beyond grateful.
If you are waiting for healing, keep going. Keep believing. Keep trusting. Healing will come.

THINGS I LISTENED TO IN SEPTEMBER

  • The song that has been playing on repeat all month is this incredible one. It is the anthem of my life right now.

  • While painting my office, I listened non-stop to The Bible Project podcast. If you love smart, theological teaching on SO MANY different subjects presented in an understandable way, this is for you.
  • Lauren Daigle released a new album and it is glorious. Especially this song.

WHAT I READ IN SEPTEMBER

One of the things that I have committed to this month is reading to my little kids (ages 10 + 8). I used to read chapter books to the older boys when they were young and then they grew and started reading on their own and I just lumped the littles in with them. Well, I’m taking back the opportunity and choosing to read chapter books to them. Each night (or as many nights as it works), we pile on my bed and read a chapter or two of a book. I am thankful for this time together. In September, we’ve read:

In my own personal reading time, I’ve been reading China Rich Girlfriend, the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians. I read the first book this summer and wasn’t planning on reading the second, but then my sister and I saw the movie and I forgot that I liked the characters and decided to keep moving in the series. I’ve been moving very slowly through it because by the time I crawl into bed and open the book, I get about 10 minutes in before I’m sound asleep.

WHAT I WATCHED IN SEPTEMBER

I’ll tell you, this month has flown by and it has been FULL. I have hardly watched tv, which is actually something I really enjoy doing to chill in the evenings. In this season of life, the kids are going to bed much later than before and as much as I’d love to just be off mom-duty, bedtime is when they all want to talk and share. My wise girlfriend once told me that when you are at your tiredest but they are ready to open up and talk to you, WAKE UP. I know that this season with them wanting to talk is fleeting and if I don’t stay present and engaged now, it will soon pass me by. It means I don’t have as much time in the evening to just relax, but it feels like a good trade-off. Anyway, all to say, I haven’t watched much tv lately. Except for three things:

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society on Netflix. Oh, my goodness, I ADORED this movie. I adored the book when I read it a few years ago and I maybe even loved the movie even more.
  • Hallmark movies. You guys, I don’t know what has gotten into me, but I watched three Hallmark movies this month. I think I just like how innocent they are. I love the Christmas ones because how could you not, but apparently I also like the non-Christmas ones.
  • If I’m looking for something quick and mindless to watch, I’ll turn on a baking show. The Great British Baking Show is, of course, a favorite, but since I’ve watched all of those, I also enjoy Sugar Rush.

WHAT I BOUGHT IN SEPTEMBER

I made a few good purchases in September.

Even though we’ve been getting rid of things like crazy, the ups delivery guy continued to ring our doorbell with happy packages. Someday I’ll challenge myself to not order one thing for a whole month. I actually think I might take on that challenge. Want to join me?!

Whew. There’s my list for September. I will forever and ever be grateful for this month. Truly, it’s been the best.

(P.S. You can see more of what I’ve learned each month this year in this post).

18 Responses to Life Lately | What I learned in September

  1. Clare October 27, 2018 at 9:11 am #

    This is so true, our life revolves entirely by being a taxi driver to our 8 year old son!

  2. Lisa October 3, 2018 at 4:39 pm #

    Would you be willing to share the link to your rental in Sedona? I’ll be visiting the area college shopping with my son and would love a place with a view like that!

  3. Pat October 2, 2018 at 11:34 am #

    Can you share more details about the rental where you stayed in Sedona? We are looking to go in November and would love to get some ideas!

    • erica October 13, 2018 at 10:21 am #

      yes, please!

  4. Deirdre Nargi October 2, 2018 at 11:27 am #

    Hello: This is great. Can you share how you go about the purging. I have a couple of spaces that really need attention, the attic, the garage. Its overwhelming do you just start throwing things out.
    I just find that I keep thinking this is good I cant just dump it. But….. I need to get there.
    Any secret strategy that you follow?

  5. jen October 1, 2018 at 6:32 pm #

    Welcome to the chauffeur-mom world. I’ve been here a few years and am not leaving any time soon. It’s good, very good.

    Any chance you can share info about that rental. I think I need that view right. now! So gorgeous!

  6. Lisa M. October 1, 2018 at 5:33 am #

    You said you will probably be blogging about your journey. I hope you do…I am 47 years old and I struggle so much with trying to figure out who I am.

  7. Farah September 29, 2018 at 10:21 pm #

    Thank you so much for all your advices and thoughts.. Much appreciated :)

  8. Lucy September 28, 2018 at 5:32 pm #

    Emily, I just wanted to say “Thank-you” for the link to the song “God, you’re so good”…HE truly is so good. I found myself in tears listening to it. Never stop seeking HIM…HE IS the “great healer”…but I guess you know that already. :) Can’t wait for you to share more about your healing experience and how HE showed you who HE is.
    God Bless.

  9. Meredith September 28, 2018 at 11:46 am #

    I did a no spend month in January and LOVED it. I plan to do it again soon.

  10. Michelle September 28, 2018 at 11:13 am #

    May I make a request that in full transparency you post before and after pictures of this you “clean out” I love to see what you do, but sometimes I feel like I am starting in a place you would not understand. I hear you describe your garage and game rooms before you start, but then all we see is the after.

  11. TinaD September 28, 2018 at 10:22 am #

    I’ll join you on that “no-mail-order” challenge; just say the word. I’ve got an Amazon problem.

    • emily September 28, 2018 at 12:10 pm #

      Yay! Well, not yay to the mail order problem, but yay to a partner in the challenge. We’re going to do it!

  12. Jera September 28, 2018 at 9:59 am #

    Thank you for sharing your month! I loved all the variety in this post. With all the driving, now you know why your folks moved closer into town once you girls hit high school!! Hugs to you!

  13. Kelly September 28, 2018 at 9:30 am #

    I read The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society based on your rec, so I was excited when I saw it pop up on Netflix. It did not disappoint! I even recommended to a few friends that like Downton Abby, so they loved it too.

  14. Julie September 28, 2018 at 9:20 am #

    This is perfect timing because I was just telling my husband that I’m an Uber driver for children- ha! And since I’m in the car so much and waiting at different destinations, I am reading books like crazy. It gets me off of my phone and puts my brain to work…plus Georgia passed new laws about touching your phone while operating a vehicle. So cheers to other Uber moms!!

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