…the good parts

When I am in the middle of reading a fiction book I almost always skip ahead.  Sometimes it is to the end and other times it is only a few chapters ahead.  Once I am satisfied to know what I did not know before, I go back to my place and begin reading there again.  Yup, I admit it.  My husband always makes fun of me when he catches me doing that.  The other day I caught my five year old daughter doing exactly the same thing.

 

During a movie I will forward through scary or intense parts I would rather not see.

 

Do you?

 

At the coffee shop where I am writing I just watched a young boy drink an entire apple juice box.  Why do kids, including this young man, drink everything in a juice box in nearly one big sip?  They want the goodness to keep coming.  I so identify with that.  I want the goodness to keep coming, so I skip over the scary, overwhelming and hard parts of books and movies so I can get back to the good, and the wonderful. I want to stay right there.

 

The thing is, in life we cannot really do that.  Gosh, wouldn’t that be nice?  In personal struggles and difficult circumstances we have no remote or power to skip over it.  We have to live it.  We have to walk through it.  We have a choice of how we do that, in fear or in faith, with others or alone.  Some difficult things in my life this year has brought out fear, anxiety and worry more to the surface in my life.  In all of these things I have wanted to overcome them all already and be done with them.  But, it isn’t that easy.  We learn things and grow in the process.  The in between time between the trouble and the victory is place where we become.  It’s the place where we get to see God be who He said He will be.  He will be your refuge and your strength, even if it doesn’t quite look like how you imagined it to be.

 

I want to become so I have to accept the hard too.  I am still in that process.

 

I have been walking through Beth Moore’s bible study The Quest this summer.  It has come exactly at the right time.  It has encouraged being honest with God and asking him all the questions you have.  Even the scary ones.  God won’t be hurt or surprised when you ask them.  The study has asked questions I have needed to verbally process within myself and God.

 

This week we have begun reading and talking about the book of Job.  This is a book of the Bible that I have skipped.  I remember intending to read it probably ten years ago and I never got around to it until now.  God had to include in the Bible for a good reason, right?    So far, I see Job in the most horrible circumstances.  I am going to keep reading to see what I find.  I won’t skip it this time.

 

What do you need to face and not to skip in your life?

 

Cinderella, Swords and a Kingdom

I hear about princesses daily.  Cinderella is my daughter’s favorite.  We host balls in our living room and there are always a plentitude of dresses strewn about across our bedroom floors.  I often have a helmet clad boy approach me with a wooden sword ready to attack.  I have to tell my son so many times that mamas don’t really appreciate battle as much as he does.

 

Children seem to have an innate interest in things of royalty.  What little girl doesn’t want to play princess or even better be a princess at some point? As bigger kids, or I guess some would call us adults, we still have that desire that lingers somewhere within us.  It is why I could not get the latest royal wedding this summer between Prince Henry and Meghan Markle out of my mind for days.  As one who never reads entertainment magazines, I scoured the internet for anything about the couple and the wedding.  There is something deep within us that is wired for Kingdoms, Kings and Princesses.

 

I think I know why.

 

We were created to be a part of one, the Kingdom of God.

 

This will be our forever home.  He will be our forever King.

 

The Bible speaks so much about this King and this Kingdom.  As I read,I become more and more excited.  As I read, the power that is behind His words that don’t merely exist on a page of paper reach inside and refocus me.  They whisper to me of what is really true, and it feels so opposite of the seen world in front of me.  That’s why I need to read, so my perspective is returned back to my Father and what He has told me is important.  He says in Luke, “Don’t concern yourself about what you will eat or drink, and quit worrying about these things.  Everyone in the world is concerned about these things, but your Father knows you need them.  Rather, be concerned about his Kingdom.  Then, these things will be provided for you.”  In short, don’t be so concerned and focused on the world in front of you.  God will take of the world and He will take care of you.  Instead, think about His Kingdom.  Make Him and His Kingdom your number one priority.  My daughter wearing a crown to breakfast doesn’t feel so crazy now, right?

 

In the book of Matthew the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest in God’s Kingdom.  I am not sure why.  One of them probably wanted to be the greatest.  It was almost like a school yard fight for superiority status.  Jesus knew they still were not understanding.  He asked a little child to come to him and put the child in the middle of all the disciples.  I can picture it.  A little child staring up at the taller adults around him.  Jesus looked at his friends and said, “You need to become like this child, and if you don’t you will never be a part of God’s kingdom.  Whoever becomes like this child, is the one that is the greatest in my Father’s kingdom.  He goes on even further to say, If you welcome this child, you welcome me.  I can just imagine the disciples shaking their heads, hardly believing what they were hearing.  They had to become like kids?

 

I am so glad that I have my children to watch and learn about the Kingdom.  I don’t have any concrete conclusions but some observations and questions.

 

Children wake up and immediately begin playing.  Playing is their work.  It is within play that they imagine their way to understanding, they try things out, and simply play.  Life is not so serious or as complicated as we make it.  Our Father has told us not to worry and maybe play is a part of that?

 

Children will simply believe what they will hear.  At the same time, they ask a million questions.  They are not afraid to ask, because they are curious.

 

They think so much more is possible.  After all, Nothing is impossible for our God.  That can become something we simply repeat, but pause for a minute and know that it is true.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Absolutely nothing.

 

Oh, how children’s eyes light up as they experience new things!  It is one of my favorite things to observe.

 

It is His Kingdom that I want to be a part of my and my family’s reality.  I am not really sure how to do that but I know it will be worth it.  His Kingdom will be more of our reality than our present one.  It may take a constant stopping and shifting my perspective.    I will pray.  How can we invite His Kingdom to our meal times, our parenting and our play?  Well, our kids have the play part down, right?

It sounds like the greatest fairy tale, because it is.   It is actually one we have the privilege to be a part of.  It is your story too.   In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, little flock (that’s us!).  Your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.  Let these words wash over you, and become a part of you.  He is pleased to give you the Kingdom.  And it is an actual, real Kingdom my friend.  What is unseen will soon be seen.  It is time to prepare for the Ball my sister.

a permission slip for you

As I sat reading, a thought began to form in my brain.  It was actually a grand realization.  I love it when an idea seems to grab you and it won’t let you go.  Slowly, the thought came into words.   I don’t have to have an answer.  I really don’t.  I don’t always have to have an answer to give people or even myself.  I do not have to know everything.  Gosh, when did I begin to think that I had to?!

That is so freeing because normally I feel like I need to have an answer.   I feel like I need to have an answer to what we are doing in the future or where we are going to live.  I need to have an answer to my whole thought process toward our homeschooling journey or to some other area in life.  I feel like I need to explain myself to everyone.  And I don’t.

 

Recently, I felt like I needed to have a final end date to our homeschool year.  Since my husband has been a teacher for the last six years and I have lived most of my life with the school calendar I think this felt like a given.  But, it doesn’t have to be!  Whoa.  So, I have surrendered a concrete end date to our year.  I have realized since education is a lifestyle it will be more of a flowy thing, with rather blurry ending and starting dates.  We will go on our road trip, which will be one big learning experience.  When we come back, we will continue where we left off, coming inside when its too hot to be outside.  We can follow the natural season and be still to listen to the season that God has us in as well.  We will keep on going and finish the books we have begun and then move on.  Every summer, I want this neat and tidy plan, and it never works that way.   But, we do find ourselves into a rhythm.  So, I won’t know all the answers for this summer, and I don’t have to.  I can have some dreams, hopes, goals and must finish items.  And that is ok too.

 

Sometimes I need to give myself a giant permission slip.  This is what this essay is, a permission slip for you to not have an answer when you think you need to.  You don’t.  Amen.

NEW

Even on a cloudy day as it is today, my spring self is ready for new.  There is something about staring at the bare branches of trees for enough days that you are more than ready to see that tiny green bud appear on the branches.  When you spot a tree or bush flowering it is like finding the greatest treasure. Oh, I see color! I see petals of yellow or pink! I saw both last week.  I cannot help myself but to write about spring again this week because it is what is stirring hope in me.   I think the bird songs are what begin to stir up our hope for new.  While it is still cold, the birds begin their songs, cheering us up that something new is around the corner.

Spring means new in my mind.  They are one and the same. It is not only in nature that I begin to witness signs of new, but I feel it within myself too.  I am ready to go outside with the freedom of no shoes, or at least sandals and without the burden of a heavy winter coat. I have more motivation within me for beginning or trying something new.  New seems more possible now than it does in the middle of winter. Perhaps, it is really the birds cheering me on that new things are indeed possible within me too. Spring almost feels like another new year, doesn’t it?  It feels like another chance to take a step towards a dream or to go after that thing that has only been a thought in the back of my mind.

 

There are words that keep coming back into my thoughts as I have a moment to pause.  They are, “Whoever is in Christ is a NEW CREATION, The old way of living has disappeared.  A NEW way of living has come into existence”.*

 

I have heard this verse before.  But, somehow, right now, this spring, I can actually receive them.  I love how we can read the same words in the Bible, but all of a sudden they are completely new to our ears, minds and imaginations.  They really are living, they are what we need right in that season.

 

In this spring of 2018 I guess I need to hear that NEW is possible.  That new is possible for me, even in the areas that seem stubborn to change.  This new does not feel scary, like change often does, but this new feels right, like jeans that fit just perfectly.

 

I am a new creation.  You are a new creation. There are no limits, the new belongs to whoever is in Christ.  If you are not in Christ, well, come right in, and say yes to this Jesus Christ who welcomes new for everyone.  Our old way of living has disappeared. Our old patterns of shame, guilt, negative self talk or whatever yuck you have agreed with in the past have disappeared my friend.  It is no longer. We are not stuck. A NEW way living has come into existence. This new way of living is one of love, forgiveness, healing, and growth. It is good.

 

You are a new creation.

 

I am a new creation.

 

Oh Father, may that sink in deeper than anything else.  May the old way not feel strong any longer but give us the strength to say no to that old way when it tries to come knock on our door.  It no longer belongs to us. You have overcome it! It is not our reality anymore! Yay! The new way of living, your way living, your way of love is now here and with us.  We say yes completely to this NEW way. Amen.

 

*From 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

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.

 

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.