Open.

As I walk out our side door this afternoon with my kids, I breathe in the fresh air as an elixir.  As one who has been stuck in the house for a week with what we can only guess as the flu, the blue sky, the trees and the grass feel like an open expanse of freedom to me.  I look into the sky and feel like I could get lost in it, in a good way.

I have never had a “word for the year” before but this year I decided to try it.  I decided if one came easily I would try it, but if none came, I wouldn’t force it.  So, on my couch one afternoon, vulnerable came to mind.  I have desired in this season to be vulnerable, something that is so not always easy, right?  But vulnerable felt like kind of a complex word to focus on so I looked up vulnerable in Webster.  One of the synonyms for vulnerable was the word open.  This was much more simple and easier to focus my mind on.  So, OPEN, it was.  Being open feels scary in a way but then it is also very much like the blue sky that I stared into this afternoon.  It is freedom.  This is what I want, freedom.

May I…

Be open to days looking different or seasons not meeting my expectations.  For that matter,may I be open to let go of expectations when I realize I even have them.  This is what I realized I needed to do this very morning.

Be open to lingering longer with a kid at bedtime, does rushing make it really go any faster?  Yes, I want my own time.  Perhaps being open is really saying yes.  Saying yes to what is important.  In this case, its saying yes to the sacred moments before bed with my child.  My own time is important too, but I do see when I don’t try to rush, it goes pretty much at the same speed but my soul is in a better place!

Be open to go slower when I want to go fast and go fast when I want to go slow.

Be open to the different, CHANGE, the uncomfortable, the good,and the truth.

Be open to love and the Word and looking in the eye when I want to look away.

Be open to imperfection, and the rest and beauty it will bring.  Perfection is not all what it is cracked up to be.

Be open to think new thoughts.

Be open to be gentle with myself when I want to be my own harsh critic.  Can I not choose to be my own cheerleader already?!

Be open for things to be better and more beautiful than I could ever imagine.

Anna McParlan of @alonginlandsea on Instagram said this, “We grow most in the seasons of surrender-when we release our clenched fists and let God plant exactly what He wants in our open hands.  It will bloom in its time.  It always does.”.

Yes to that.  So, here I am, with my open hands, my open heart and my open mind.    Here I am, open.

 

Right Now.

Upon reading over my January entries in my journal today, I came to this quote, “Give your ENTIRE attention to what God is doing RIGHT NOW (all emphasis is mine), and don’t get worked up about what MAY or MAY NOT happen TOMORROW.”  I read through my past month as I move into the new month.  It honestly helps me to remember what stood out as important or what impressed itself on my soul, because I often forget quicker than I would imagine.

 

Give your ENTIRE attention to what God is doing RIGHT NOW.  Entire is a lot.  It means to have no element or part left out according to Webster.  In other words, it means WHOLE.  Give your WHOLE attention to what God is doing.  Do not have even one iota of your attention on any other thought,or any other pursuit but have every part of your mind on what God is doing.  Whoa.  

 

So, focusing my attention on what God is doing is evidently important, right?  I can hear the next question you have, because it was mine too, so what is God doing right now?  How can I know what God is doing right now?

 

There are times when I know, I just know without a shadow of a doubt that God is speaking.  This usually happens when I am taking a walk or doing some task, not expecting anything and suddenly I sense it, a phrase or an assurance of an idea that feels like it pops into my brain.  There is a yes in my mind that agrees with what I “hear”.  When I am hoping for an answer, often anxious about it, I don’t feel like I hear anything to be honest.  Mostly, I sense to trust God.

 

In this example, I actually had written this verse Matthew 6:34 from the Message not on only one page, but I had written it twice!  I had not remembered the second time that I had written it.  I also had written a box around it as a way of highlighting it BOTH times.  When I see something repeated, usually it is a theme that is repeated, not actually the same verse, I know that it is something to pay attention to.  In this case, it actually repeated to pay attention to what God is doing right now!  What He is doing is giving me this verse from Matthew 6:34 right now.  Oh, and not to forget the second half of the verse, because that is included in the repetition, He says, “and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  I so often have a script playing out in my mind if something would happen or trying to prepare myself for something that may or may not happen.  This part of the verse speaks to my overactive mind and imagination, that I have a permission slip to not get overworked or should I say, over fixated on it?

 

This gets even better!  A week or so after I wrote the verse for the second time, I go to church.  Guess what my pastor said right at the beginning of his sermon?  He said, “God is at work in your life RIGHT NOW (Yes, I had those last two words in all caps in my journal, just like the verse was written both times in my journal.)  It’s almost like God would know (He does know us.)  I would question if he was really working in my life right now.  Can you really pay attention to something you are not sure that He is doing?  No.  So, in that case, He makes it clear to me that He is indeed speaking.  Perhaps He is getting my attention so that when He does speak, I am ready.  I am not sure what He wants me to focus on, but after writing this, I am even more ready to know!  

 

I do not share this to say this is how it will work in your life when God speaks.  I am not giving you a five step formula but rather an example of how it could actually play out in your real life.  I wouldn’t have remembered any of this if I hadn’t journaled and if I hadn’t gone back to read my journal.  So, it may be a shameless plug for writing things down.  

 

Know that God is indeed working in your life, despite all the circumstances that are playing out in your life right now.  He wants you to know to put your whole mind on what he is doing right now and not on what may or may not happen tomorrow.

Living like you.

I have always been slow.  Slow in the way that I naturally take my time, especially when I begin something.  When morning comes, I slowly make my way out of bed.  When night comes, I slowly get ready for bed.  My husband says he is going to bed, and his body is actually in bed within minutes.  I say the same thing and it could be twenty minutes later and then I am REALLY in bed.  I wash my face, brush my teeth and perhaps read a little something.   What about the rest of the day in between?  When, I can, I prefer the slow, lingering and pondering kind of life.

 

When I was a kid I am not sure I would have known that I was slow except that I remember my stepmom giving me exercises that were aimed at helping me to increase my my speed.  I don’t think they worked.  I also strongly remember greatly disliking timed multiplication tests.  Now, this makes sense, because I was not able to go slow.  I had to go as fast as I could, and this felt against how I do things naturally. It was against how I was created.  As a child in second grade I couldn’t have processed that, but I knew it felt horrible to me.

 

Since becoming an adult I have learned how to speed up my natural slow tendency.  Now, I am a mother, so sometimes my little people are ready for food NOW or I have to get my kids moving so I can switch my speed to fast when I need to.  Sometimes I have to go fast for their sake.

 

My son.  We arrive home and park our car in our driveway.  We all get out, and my son is still thinking of getting out.  Actually, he might not even be thinking about getting out.  Today, I was explaining the longer it takes us to get into the car, the less time we will have at the Lego building time at the library.  I know he had this in mind, but he still was in his carseat a minute or so until he thought, “Oh!  I should buckle up because we cannot go until I do and I want to go build with Legos.”  I know this, because I was watching him, and I saw when the “aha” went on in his head and he began to buckle up.

 

When I am rushed I forget things.  When I go fast I drop things or I do stupid things I would never do if I went slow and thoughtfully.  For example,I have been known to leave the exact thing I went to a store for, in the bag next to the checkout counter, for the sake of rushing to the next place.  This hasn’t only happened once.  I am not at my best when I go fast.

 

What I have discovered , is that I am better when I mother slow.  When I am rushed, I say and do things I wish I had not.  I am impatient with my kids…and myself.  I live better when I move slow.  When I am not rushing to one place and then another.  When I am intentional about what I choose for myself or my family and what I choose not to do.  When I am able to limit what I do, then I CAN do it slower.  This is a work in progress my friends.

 

The way YOU have been made is important and worthy of practice.  You may not be slow.  You may live better when you are in community.  Surround yourself with people.  Invite people into your home.  Live, what feels natural to you.  I am sharing my slow example that it may be a highlighter to highlight something in you, something you may have forgotten has been you ever since you were a child.  You do not have to grow out of it but rather to see how to grow into it.

 

When I live slow, I am able to see, I mean really see my children, my husband or the person that is in front of me.  Living slow to me means not rushing from activity to activity or thought to thought but lingering where you are.

 

When I live slow, I am able to listen, I mean really listen to the words of my children or to the words of my Heavenly Father.  Yesterday, as I was putting my daughter to bed for the second time, I was ready to be off parenting duty for the evening.  As her arms and body were wrapped around mine, she exclaimed, “You’re the best mommy in the WHOLE world!”  I heard it physically with my ears, but it did not register in my mind or heart.  As my head was laying on my pillow a while later, that is when the words my daughter spoke finally entered my heart.  I want to hear the words of the ones I love and to look them straight into their eyes.  It may not happen every time, but most of the time, may I be living slowly enough to hear them.

 

May this be your permission slip to live slow or according to how you have been made.

…Words of Life

Dear One,

Jesus stopped for the one, he will stop for you.  He is never too busy.  He always has the time for you.

He pays attention to me, and he will pay attention to you.  He doesn’t play favorites, but yet, you are his favorite.

Jesus is your help,your healer and he takes delight in you.  He is there at all hours of the day and in every circumstance.  He doesn’t shake his head at you when you make mistakes but he looks you straight in the eyes and he smiles at you, because you make him smile.  You do.  You really do.

Walk in these words of life today.

The wonder of childhood, for parents too

As I am typing this, the sun is setting on this summer day and my children just gave me hugs goodnight.  My husband is tucking them in as I write.  It is a wonder to see gentleness and love in their hugs and voices as they good night.  It is a wonder to see what they learn through us.  Perhaps I will next write, the wonder of being a mother, because it is a wonder to see our children grow,learn and become who they were made to be.

 

I spent the spring of this year questioning.  I was questioning our first homeschool year.  Doesn’t every mother question herself at some point during the journey?  Add to “job title”, teacher, and the questions have doubled.  Are my children getting what they need?  We had counted, started beginning phonics and worked on memorization.  I had check off many boxes that I so like checking off.  But I could feel myself being led to a new way of living and learning, being a mother and a teacher.

 

I have always been a planner.  A planner in the sense  I love writing things, ideas and plans in a clean white space in a journal or planner, but living it all out, that felt more overwhelming than fun.  I am slowly learning through mistakes and exhaustion what I can actually can do during a given time.

 

One of the many reasons why I decided to homeschool was to allow our children to be children as long as they can.  I want to give them ample free time to explore, pretend and build.  I believe they learn such valuable lessons through play.  I adore watching my children lost in play,for that is indeed the wonder of childhood.

 

Here’s the thing, as much as we may TRY, we cannot plan wonder.  Wonder just happens.  It’s the reaction to discovering a frog hopping along the cement or the taste of freshly picked fruit off of the tree.  Wonder often happens outside, in discovery and exploration of nature.  The wonder of childhood is experiencing something for the first time.

 

So, I began searching for more ways to be outside and to bring school outside.  At the same time,the house we’ve been renting was sold, and we again found ourselves looking for a new place to live.

 

We came up empty with options in the town we had just moved to.  But then, a unique opportunity we had considered in the Fall, “wound up” being our only option in our minds.  We could house-sit a house in the country, a half an hour away.  We said yes, although we weren’t fully convinced about it.

 

When I woke up the first day in the country and saw my kids playing outside I knew this was the right place.  My kids eyes were glowing and radiating with joy.  What mama cannot help but rejoice in that?  I began to breathe easier after the business of moving as I sat and stared at nature.  Nature itself is therapy.  My husband, a teacher, joined us during our days, and we all have been able to experience wonder.

The wonder of watching a mama bird feed her young.

The wonder of chicks hatching and Mama hens protecting them under their wings.  The wonder of them growing up.

The wonder of jumping on a trampoline most nights while the sun sets.

The wonder of taking care of dogs and how they want to be your best friend.

The joy of seeing something new or experiencing something for the first time.

The wonder of playing outside until it is too dark to see.

The wonder of having a bonfire and roasting s-mores.

The wonder of having a long driveway to have races on.

To wonder, is to really live, and its not only for children, but for their parents too.

to lead a quiet life.

“And He gave them this surprising charge, “Make it your ambition TO LEAD A QUIET LIFE. (1 Thess 4:11)…but I am sure its the ONE THING worthy of my ambition.  The quiet life shares the good news the loudest, perhaps because only the quiet life is FIRST able to HEAR the good news. ”

-Christie Purifoy, from ROOTS + SKY