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Time…Is NOT running out

January 21, 2016

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Take a moment. Think of everything you need to do today. Think of everything you need to do this week. Even this month.

Now think about someone telling you to stop. For an unestablished period of time. Starting right now.

What is your gut reaction? Do you beg for 24 hours to get organized first? Do you “stop” in theory but the reality is that you are still going strong? Do you welcome the break and figure things will take care of themselves?

For most of us who are stopped dead in our tracks we panic. Sure at different levels and in different ways but underneath it all is a sense of panic. TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

This exact scenario happened to me. I am here to assure you that time is NOT running out.

This is an invitation to slow down.

Time has always been and will always be. (The theology and reality of this is long and complicated and I could be wrong…I know, but hang with me.) My personal summary is that in the beginning (time word) there was (time word). And in the end (time word) there will be (time word). In the most literal sense time itself is not running out.

This should help us feel relieved. We are not at the mercy of time.

As I have sat in this for going on 6 weeks I have gone through many feelings:

Panic: What is going to happen with _____?
Fear: If I don’t _____ who will?
Regret: If I had only done ______ then I wouldn’t have to deal with my current situation.
Numb: Whatever. ________will get done somehow.
Wondering: Well, if I can’t _______, what CAN I do?
Relief: I couldn’t do _______if I tried, glad I don’t have to try right now.
Acceptance: Just because I can’t do _____, doesn’t mean I can’t _____.

The clock is still moving. The world is still turning. And I am still a part of it.

You see, in accepting that time does not rule me I feel like I have been given the gift of perspective. If time does not rule my days what does? What ARE my priorities?

To get to this place I had to stop completely. Can you stop? Will you? Even for a moment?

Now that I am nearing the end of the stillness I start fresh. Clearer. More aware.

I am not ruled by time. I am only limited by capacity. What can I do? What can my one single person Handle? Manage? Process? Give?

I’m still sorting this out but I know my family is a big part. And the work commitments I have made. My husband matters a great deal. Our community both church and local have a piece of my heart.

If time were my ruler I would look at that list and feel defeated before I even began. I don’t feel that way. In slowing all these areas have still required attention and all have received it. Not because of time but because of who I am.

This is the place I am called to right now.

As I look at it today I don’t see a full calendar or feel overwhelmed with lacking energy or endurance. Instead, I see a list of things I have been called to love and in my heart and soul know, my God given capacity is enough.

Time is not running out. I am not chasing her and she is not chasing me. Instead, I am walking in the ever growing knowledge of who I am today and what I can do. Right here. Right now. For it is the now that matters most.

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Time…Atrophy

January 11, 2016

In January I’ve decided to share some thoughts on time…check back and enjoy.

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I said to my husband today “I understand why our physical bodies begin to atrophy when we stop moving. When you stop it is just easier to stay put then it is to get up and go.”

Over the last month I’ve had to slow waaaaayyyy down. As we expect our 5th baby my body just isn’t as young or cooperative as it was when we had our 1st baby almost 9 years ago. (Yeah, I commuted on a city train and worked until I was 41 weeks 4 days with that first baby…)

The first couple weeks were so irritating. I wanted to go, go, go even though my body (and my Dr.) said that wasn’t a good idea.

As I have fallen into a slower pattern I have found it harder and harder to go and easier and easier to roll back over and just fall back asleep.

But I don’t want to atrophy.

I don’t want my body to freeze up. It is going to need to be strong to deliver this baby.

I don’t want my mind to go numb. It needs to be sharp to be the mama leader my kids need and the wife love my husband needs.

I don’t want my soul to settle into discontent. It is not the calling of the soul to discontentment but to hope.

And so I sit and I think about Charles Dickens…”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” (A Tale of Two Cities)

And I sit and ponder Ecclesiastes 3…

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

So I will not atrophy. Instead I will ponder time and seasons. I will reflect on what is, what was and what is to come.

My friend Bridget talked about her “one word” this year. And while I am not sure my one word is time I think my biggest lesson might be…

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Thanksgiving: The Ladies…

November 27, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, The Ladies.

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Remember Jr. High? And girls in Jr. High? And those first awkward years of college roomies you may or may not have known?

I remember some very distinct seasons of my life when it felt like I would never be that girl to have “girlfriends”.  The ones that we read about in The Babysitters Club and the ones we watched on Friends and the ones we saw loudly leaving our dorm floor.

Yet, here I sit. Of all the things I could have shared this week I want to give a big shout out to all the ladies in my life. I wouldn’t be the woman, mom, wife or friend that I am without them. I am so thankful that they accept me for who I am my. My crazy, my flaws, my (sometimes poorly expressed) passion for things. My life would not be the same without them.

Friendships are hard. Finding good girlfriends is even harder.

The Moms Group…for a bunch of years now I have sat on Wednesday mornings, consumed more coffee than imaginable and learned with women. These women have kids of all ages, stages, personalities and ability. They have had amazing times and some of the worst. We have seen lots of new life and carried the burden of death among us. These ladies have taught me what it really means to be “the church”.  These ladies do more than talk with me too. They’ve watched my kids, helped me through big transitions, brought meals and so much more. They’ve become more than my Wednesday morning, they’ve become my dear friends. I never knew what it was like to be part of this kind of joy until I was with them.

The Late Night Girls Night…these ladies are my people. Somehow, every now and then, with lots of good cheese, we all manage to find a living room floor to sit on and just be together. We aren’t any one of us the same and not a single one of us is from this town we now call “home”. Maybe it is our shared transience or maybe it is just who we are, these are ladies who have a passion for life like I’ve never seen before. They fight hard fights, say hard things, do big things and are always asking who they were really meant to be. We all need deeply passionate friends, they are mine and really, I can’t imagine life without them.

The Working Women…I work with a lot of women. Whatever I happen to be doing for work I find myself across the table or desk from another woman. Ones who own businesses, run businesses, champion businesses and constantly recreate businesses. These women have grit. They get things done. Beyond getting things done they want to make a mark in the world, make it a better place. They create places of service and resources and joy. I admire these women and they encourage me to keep going, to do that thing I was called to do and do it well.

The PenPals and Texters…There are a handful of people that I don’t get to have coffee with or chat on the phone with or run to the park with. They are usually women who I’ve known for a long time. We have a history. We exchange texts about our kids or our prayer needs. We send gifts to celebrate birthdays and babies and houses. We share bits and pieces of the life we live apart. Yet, these women know me well. They hold a piece of my history that is definitive to who I am and who I am becoming. We may not be near enough to have coffee or available enough to make that happen but when there is a need, a joy or pain, these ladies always know.

The Coffee Talk…These ladies get me. They each individually manage to find time to meet me out and about, swing by when it works for them or make the coffee and let me come over with whomever I have in tow that day. Not everyone is spontaneous and go with the flow but these ladies, they feed that part of my soul. They don’t mind that I’m folding laundry or that they are sitting on a stained couch or that my 3 year old keeps trying to drink their coffee when they set it down. Somewhere in the midst of coffee some of the most transformative conversations of the last 4 years have happened. These individual women have helped me understand my son, have let me cry my eyes out when things were hard and have made me laugh uncontrollably. Coffee holds a special place in my heart, not because of how delicious it is, but because how all the times I’ve held it in the presence of these individuals and been changed.

And More…These few short stories can not possibly encompass all the lovely women I know or have known. My sisters and mom. My very best friend and a few new friends. The wise ladies at my church and the young church ladies just like me. These stories of community are wide and deep, simple and complicated. All bring joy and I am so grateful.

So, maybe I didn’t have a Childhood forever friend or a Jr. High best friend or a favorite College Roomie but today, today I am thankful for the women I have right now. I don’t know how I would do life without them.

Today, I am thankful for The Ladies!

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Thanksgiving: The Guy

November 26, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, The Guy aka My Husband aka Steve.

Yep, that’s him. That’s that guy that gave me the silent treatment when he asked me about kids and I said no thanks. The one who married me anyway. The one who simultaneously went to school full time and also managed to be a great stay at home dad. The one who cooks, helps with laundry and has even managed to talk my 6 year old girly girl into liking football.

There’s something about him. I mean there must be to be 10 years, 4.5 kids and 2 cities into this thing.

Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving brings it all out. As of this writing we are hosting his family for Thanksgiving…and moving 3 days later.

Why? Well, it’s Thanksgiving!

I didn’t marry a guy who is super handy or a CEO or extremely wealthy.

I married a guy who lives best when he serves well. Who uses his gift and passion for food to love people. Who is not slowed down by whatever else is happening but insists that if there is an event where people want to gather around a table he will let them gather around his table.

In our home family dinner is an event, the kids look forward to it every day he is home.

In our marriage every major milestone, celebration and hard conversation can be marked by a table we sat around, just the two of us.

In our community our best friends are the ones who have sat through simple sandwiches and four course meals around our less than brand new kitchen table because he invited them there.

The thing is, that in the end (while amazingly delicious!) it isn’t about the food. It is about the heart of the guy behind the food.

The guy that sees the simple need for food as more than a meal but a calling. A place to remind people that they are loved. A place to encourage people to relax and laugh a little. A place to engage the little people in our lives over soulful conversation.

This guy will work on our Thanksgiving meal for 2 days, will serve it with excitement and will share it with love.

Today, I am thankful for him.

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Thanksgiving: Hugs and Kisses

November 25, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Hugs and Kisses

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I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to put a 20 month old in footie pajamas but let me just tell you, walking on Legos is easier!

I had my little guys legs in the pj’s and then he stood up so we could wrangle his arms in. As I reached for his right arm he leaned in real close and kissed me right on the lips. I kissed him back and reached for his other arm and he did it again, I kissed him back. I zipped him up and he did it again, this time putting his free arms around my neck and laying his sweet tiny head on my shoulder. Hugs and Kisses.

We were sitting at the dinner table going around telling about the best part of our day. Then we went around saying what the hardest part of the day was. When we arrived at my tender hearted little Kindergartner her eyes welled up and she said “The hardest part of my day was that I was crying at school because I missed you.” Right there at the dinner table I invited her to snuggle and kissed her on the top of her head. Hugs and Kisses.

It was a lot. Sitting in a therapists office hearing about what would “be best” for our son and knowing that financially it just wasn’t an option right now. Wondering if there was any way we could make it work and if we couldn’t make it work if we were letting our son down in the biggest way. I held it together on the car ride home, through dinner and bedtime. By the time we curled into bed I couldn’t hold on to it anymore. All the tears, they just came. My broken heart bearing itself to my also tired and overwhelmed husband. He just pulled me close. Said the right things. Reminded me that we are the caretaker of our son but God has big plans for him no matter what. Hugs and Kisses.

I’m not a particularly touchy feely person and I do think it odd when someone I don’t know tries to hug me. Yet, in the midst of life there is something really powerful about Hugs and Kisses. They show affection, soothe, bring comfort all in the worst and best moments.

Maybe it is a small, silly thing to be thankful for this week but in the last months of my life Hugs and Kisses have changed more than one day into something more.

Hug a child. Kiss a spouse. Snuggle a baby. Squeeze your best friend. Be thankful for Hugs and Kisses.

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Thanksgiving: Motherhood

November 24, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Motherhood.

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You know those girls you grew up with. The ones that were just naturally maternal. When you planned your imaginary grown up life they had get married, have kids, be a mom on the top of their list.

Yeah, I was not that girl, ever.

It’s okay, you can laugh. For those of you that don’t know me I have 4 kids and am expecting…it is a *little* funny…

It was shocking that my sweet husband and I ever got married. We were in the car once when we were dating and he asked me about kids and I said bluntly “I don’t know if I ever want kids.” He didn’t say a word, turned up the music and gave me the silent treatment.

He married me anyway.

10 months after our wedding I stood, hot tears streaming down my face, positive pregnancy test in hand. He grinned from ear to ear, and really, he’s never stopped.

I didn’t choose motherhood, motherhood chose me. And, I haven’t always liked it.

In the beginning I wasn’t “good” at being a mom. It was so much emotional energy. I wanted to work and eat out and have a flexible schedule, it wasn’t exactly easy working and nursing and being home at a reasonable hour so everyone could rest.

As if this hard wasn’t enough BOOM, baby #2 was coming and at 7 months pregnant I lost my full time job. With my husband having just accepted a new full time job we decided I would “take some time off” and “stay home with the kids” and “enjoy the baby” for awhile.

I’ve never really gone back to my full time, live to work life, ever. And, I am so thankful I haven’t.

Somewhere after Baby #2 my heart began to change. I was the same me. I still wasn’t “good” at the emotional side of motherhood, I still dreamed about working full time, fine dining and just one weekend without a schedule but something was different.

I was still me but maybe version 2.0.

Version 2.0 of me looked the same, sounded the same, was just as driven and still full of energy. She was just a little more compassionate. A bit more emotionally brave. A lot more tired. And, a lot more of who she was meant to be.

I’m not a great cook (although my husband says I make great reservations!), I’m an okay homemaker (okay, not really, but I have friends that help me pretend to be) and I am still learning about the emotional side of motherhood (I can help my kids with robotics but can I teach them the meaning of unconditional love).

BUT, I have learned about love. And grace. And joy. And calling.

Love is so much more than a feeling and is intricately woven into our words and thoughts and actions and gifts.

Grace is so much more than forgiveness and embraces the impossible and unconditional sides of love.

Joy is more than fun but instead a gut punching side glance from a mischievous 3 year old that reminds you that she knows she’s loved.

Calling is irrevocable. The independent, strong-willed, leader, pursuer, teacher and dreamer in me were always meant to be. Motherhood has shown me that I am who I am and it is GOOD, regardless of what people see me as.

We all arrive at Motherhood differently, this is how I arrived here. The path has not been easy or gentle on my soul but now, my soul is easy and oh so gentle on others as they tread their own motherhood paths.

Today I am thankful for Motherhood.

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Thanksgiving: Ransom

November 23, 2015

Ransom

It’s Thanksgiving Week.

I admire the many people who can keep up with posting 1 thankful thing a day for the entire month of November. I always want to do this but never seem to manage. This year especially with a trip to Minnesota, packing to move and just life, it hasn’t happened. But I have been thinking about it.

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, Ransom.

It was Youth Sunday at church. My kids always sit with us in church through singing, prayer, communion and offering. But on Youth Sunday, they are with me the entire service. Some days this is pretty manageable, others, a bit rough.

As my son sat most of the service with his arms crossed, minus one funny interaction with our preaching youth pastor, I was feeling discouraged. Will his heart ever be soft enough to see, hear and taste real grace?

As we stood singing our invitation song he leaned over, arms still crossed, face still stoic, and said “Mom, what does ransom mean?”

I got down on his level and looked him right in the eye and whispered “It is a payment for something that was taken. In our case we have been taken by sin and Jesus dying was a ransom for our life forever, freedom forever. Make sense?”

He looked at me, looked at the words, looked back at me. With the tenderest of eyes he nodded his head and took my hand.

That was all.

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

Today I am thankful for moments where words matter.

My sweet son is a reader and we talk about words a lot. We look things up in the dictionary, we compare and contrast, we think up funny words and laugh at the non-sensical ones.

Today, oh today, this one moment, this one word, mattered more than any word we’ve talked about all year.

I don’t know if or when his heart will ever be tender to grace but I sure am thankful for the glimpse of hope and the one moment we had to talk about Ransom…

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