A Look Back. A Look Forward.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
- Annie Dillard

After a week of travels, my family and I are situated back in Pennsylvania with bags unpacked, laundry washed, and new memories tucked away. Tonight as we sat down to dinner on this final day of the decade, we took turns sharing favorite moments from the past year, the hardest challenges we faced, and what we're most looking forward to in the upcoming year.

It's important to reflect. For me, the best moments in 2019 involved family, travel, and opportunities when I was able to use my gifts to encourage, like speaking at a women's conference in the fall. The roughest patches, without doubt, were dark days when siblings fought and ugly tensions brewed between us and the kids. During these moments, which I mentally understand happen in normal family life, a part of me still fears that all is lost, that I've irrevocably broken something, and that because of my failings, none of my kids will emerge as functional humans. I spent many moments on my knees, interceding.

And, in hindsight, that's not a bad thing. In fact, it's a good thing. In the most confusing and painful times, I know to pray with authority and declare God's promises for my children and their futures, for emotional stability, for wisdom in decision making. For everything, really.

What a beautiful realization: nothing -- not even the worst, most convoluted problem -- is too complex that God can't make a way, and at the same time, nothing -- not even the smallest concern -- is too inconsequential that God won't attend his ear. He's got it all covered.

So tonight I reflect on the fact that the entirety of 2019, both the good and the bad, is covered with grace. And 2020 will be covered with grace, too.

With this state of reflection in mind, I want to leave you with a small sampling of several popular posts from the past year on Robin Kramer Writes. I'm honored you take time to join me here, and I hope my words continue to humor and encourage you.

(And now's the moment when you click liberally on the links and open many new tabs. Go wild, my friend!)

Successful Parenting When You're in the Storm

Don't Let Emotions Drive the Bus

Sometimes "One More Thing" Can Wait

Letting Kids Be Kids

Listen to the Right Voice

The Pebble In My Shoe

I Can Do Hard Things

Typical Demands, Random Disruptions, and Mental Loads

Not Holding It Together

Happy New Year! May 2020 be the best year yet.


Merry and Bright

Whether your day is bustling or quiet, may you find sweet moments this Christmas as we reflect on the greatest gift ever given: Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Christmas Traditions: The Crazy House

In every community, I imagine there's at least one house that stands out for Christmas. There's one not far from where we live. For years we've made it a family tradition to pile into the van, turn on Christmas music, and then slowly drive past this spectacle to fully absorb its mega-watt glory.

We've come to fondly call it the Crazy House. At some point during the weeks leading up to Christmas, either Joel or I will ask, "Want to drive the girls by the Crazy House tonight?" (The answer to this question is always yes. It's become an ingrained Christmas tradition, just like eating cookies, or watching Elf, or having the kids wake up at an ungodly early hour on Christmas morning.)

But this year I noticed something while driving home one evening. The Crazy House has new competition.

Why, hello, Larger-than-a-House Inflatable Santa. Driving past you might became part of our family Christmas tradition, too.

Before the Window Shuts

Last week during Thanksgiving break, we experienced one especially temperate day. Now, a day in the mid-50's is a special gift during late November in Pennsylvania, so instead of doing what I had planned on doing (indoor work), I did something quite different (outdoor work).

Hours later, no papers were graded, but I admired those aesthetically-pleasing lines in my grass from my final end-of-season lawn-mowing, piles of cleared brush, and the Christmas garland draped on our front railing. The next day temperatures dropped, and since then, we've alternated from basic cold to "wintery mixes," which is the meteorological euphemism for "basic cold + varying degrees of wetness and slipperiness."

If I could kiss my own forehead, I would. I'm so pleased that I completed these outdoor tasks during the window of time when I could.

There's something to be said for seizing the opportunity during its lifetime. I teach about this concept -- a term called kairos -- in one of my rhetoric classes, in fact. In simplest form, kairos is a way of looking at time -- not chronologically, but rather in terms of opportunity. Kairos reflects an opportune time, an advantageous time, a critical time when acting or speaking can make a difference.

Sometimes it's easier to understand kairos by looking at its absence rather than its fulfillment. We've all had moments when we can't think of what to say, only to come up with the perfect words moments later as we're walking away from the situation. But by then we're too late. The words are no longer timely, no longer appropriate. The window of opportunity has shut. We've missed kairos.

But last week, I didn't. I had one day, and I made it count. 

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