Giving up On My Dreams and Living in my Reality

I have a book that I bought that is supposed to teach me how to get things accomplished.

Its called “Eat that Frog,” by Brian Tracy. The only problem is I haven’t read it. I got that initial jolt of excitement when I read the back of the book while browsing in Barnes and Noble back before I owned a kindle. “Eat That Frog is a proven system for dramatically improving your time management skills so you can get more done, more effectively, in less time.”

Doesn’t that sound great you guys? It sounded great to me. I got a high when I bought the book, knowing that I was taking the first step in improving my time management. Only problem is I never seemed to find the time to read it. And that was BEFORE I had kids!

Because it always seems to be something, some excuse that holds me back from doing the things I know I should do. I’m sure you can fill in the blank with the prescription you’ve written yourself for personal improvement, “Once I’m done with ______________ then I will do this _____________.” I don’t know about you, but something always seems to come up that prevents me from being my aspiring self.

Take this blog for example. I haven’t written a thing because I’m always waiting for the perfect circumstances to sit down and pour out my heart in a meaningful way. The stars just haven’t aligned recently. So instead I’ll settle for an afternoon in my hotel room, my dog snoozing on the chair as the sun streams in through the clouds and sheer curtains on the seventh floor. I won’t mention my toddler covered in erasable marker creating a masterpiece on her arms and the coloring book on the floor beside me.

But I’m stealing a moment to write this because I’ve made a resolution. I’m going to stop waiting for the “once…then…” to be fully present in my life now. But I’m also going to stop trying to measure myself against an impossible standard.

This means a house thats relatively clean and not immaculate.

A diet that is a happy blend of salads and protein shakes and wine and chocolate chip cookies.

It means feeling accomplished when I find time to do a 10 minute workout instead of delaying working out until– well you know all the excuses.

It means sharing a blog post that shows my life and heart in process.

Its having friends over to laugh and sip wine on a Monday night while my kids sleep in the next room.

Best of all, having friends that love me and celebrate me and all my contradictions– the former hair stylist that never does her hair, the pastor’s wife that doesn’t like small talk and potlucks, and the stay at home mom that longs to change the world. 

I love stories about people accomplishing amazing feats, stories about redemption, the stories that depict people’s love and dedication to one another and their calling– the underdog that overcomes impossible odds to do something amazing. But sometimes these stories paralyze me.

Sometimes I need to step back from my aspirations and live my life one word at a time. I need to remember that the small things, like mustard seeds have incredible worth and potential.

So I’ll plant these little seeds that I have right now.  I’ll plant myself in this moment. And I’ll grow. I’ll grow little by little, in these days of undone to do’s, my barking dog, and a bed that seems to keep unmaking itself every morning.

I think I’ll focus on these little things and let God move the mountains.

 

 

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Home isn’t A Destination

IMG_3695

At the edge of now; Searching for not yet

What is; What is to come,

Warm brushstrokes of hope bleeding into the dark sea of unknown,

Plans harpooned; Disquieted and motionless

As stillness ripples across the white caps of uncertainty

Fingers of light touching things submerged,

The meeting place of lungs and gills,

Anticipating, trembling; Longing waiting,

Humming with hope, Holding still,

Peace in knowing; Faith in waiting,

The crossing place where the Divine teaches us,

To walk across sin’s sinking surfaces,

Holding His guiding hand home.

 

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Called to Be

sister

Calling. Something that seems to come outside us. That irresistible thing that beckons us, shapes us, needs us to engage. I don’t know about you, but this is a word that I’ve grappled with every few years, finding it impossible to sift it down to one single grain.

But I think more and more, calling is the complicated thing that our generation and younger generations seem to long for. To live a life of purpose that somehow pays the bills and fulfills us, so our lives feel good, and look good on Instagram. Is that what calling is? Or does it have an illusive quality- something we’re always looking to find more fully- but never fully “arrive” at.

When a person tries to fill themselves up with purpose, or position, popularity, or possessions, they are going to become bloated, and so incredibly empty.

In 1 Corinthians as Paul addresses the people of Corinth, he scolds them for allowing themselves to become “overinflated or distended” with pride- the Greek word physioo. As Pastor Tim Keller points out in his book about self forgetfulness, Paul doesn’t use the normal Greek word for pride, hubris, but makes a point to use this other, more descriptive word to emphasize the Corinthians problem.

When we try to fill ourselves up by searching for approval and achievement, we’re going at it the wrong way. Calling isn’t something that we need to search for outside of ourselves, but something God has planted within us; who God has created us to be. It flows out of who we are. Our essence.

Calling isn’t necessarily how we’re going to pay the bills, but maybe a nice bonus. Calling isn’t going to make our lives fall into perfect order, or gain us popularity, or make us look good on Instagram. Calling doesn’t mean that we always want to do it either- sometimes following our calling feels like trust, obedience, and hard work.

Calling is living out who God created us to be in a life that serves him and the people around us. It can be as small as writing an article for the preschool newsletter, reading our kids poems, or making a meal for good friends to share over a good conversation. It can look like sitting with someone when conversation is halting and uncomfortable and tears flood our vision. It can go bigger than we imagine by rebuilding a village in Africa, raising thousands of dollars for the underprivileged, or finding a cure that saves millions.

Calling isn’t about going to the right college or having a fantastic resume. It isn’t necessarily about traveling across the world or impacting thousands of lives. Lived out, calling looks like the next right thing.

But the point is- calling isn’t something we have to earn or prove, its created by God, and fueled by the Spirit. Its about prayer, faith, and steeping ourselves in His word. Day by day, minute by minute calling is lived out in trust and obedience.

So how do we teach our kids this, as we ourselves are still figuring it out?

I don’t have all the answers, but I think the first step is not pushing our kids to achieve. Achievement is great, but it flows out of being who we are. No I think first we need to teach our kids how to be. How to be present, how to be honest, how to be loved and loving, how to be whole. The first step is teaching them how to be God’s child. That happens when we bring them to church, when we pray with them, and read God’s word, when we talk with them and answer their questions.

But most of all it happens as we live out God’s calling in our own lives- quieting our hungry egos and filling ourselves up with him. Remembering that we don’t need to be popular, or skinny, successful, or rich to be loved by Him. We already are.

Prayer
Remind us that only You can satisfy this ache within us.

We come to you now with open palms and empty souls.
We are dry clay jars of dust, ready for you to fill us, fuel us, and repurpose us for Your glory.

We feel hungry and empty,
And yet we look to be filled by whatever is at the end of our fingertips.
Until we are full, and bloated, and completely unsatisfied.
Sometimes we’re distracted into believing we have all we need,
Sometimes we’re smug and satisfied, easily pleased with our own abilities.

Thank you for tugging our hearts back to You,
For reminding us of our overwhelming need for Your Glory.
Thank you that the Holy of Holies dwells in our chests,
No longer behind an untouchable veil.

Let us lean into our longing and linger in Your presence,
As you pass over us let us realize the magnitude of Who You are.
Satisfy us with your fullness, and let us continue to hunger for You

Thank you for reminding us that only You are our source for true fulfillment.
Touch us with Your presence Lord,
Fill our heart cups with Your living water
Fill our souls with the bread of your life.

We lift our palms to you, empty and filled, lost and repurposed.

 

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

100 Honest Words

vbs moreconverse

“What do I want to be when I grow up?”

A question I’ve asked since scraped knees and greasy pony.
Sleek and polished professional the same question buzzes in my blood.
Yoga pants, messy bun cliche, kids running underfoot, the question sings like a lullaby in the early morning beneath cries and snuggles.
These days self realization looks a lot like self promotion— self devotion.
But amid the accumulation, and forward motion, stuffed emotion, I wonder if that question is an ironic statement that lingers to tease us, teasing out the loose threads of our unraveling certainty.

Who am I?

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Loved over Perfect

fullsizeoutput_126b

I want to walk the fine line of perfection.
I want to be one way- until I lean too far in one direction, and then I overcorrect, leaving me dizzy with indecision and insecurity.

They call it happy medium, like there’s a measurement that amounts to that, but I’m realizing that its a constant balancing act. The moment I think I’ve got it down, my illusions comes crashing down as I face my false reality.

I think this is a dance we do as parents, as spouses, as kids, and at work, with our friends and even with people we don’t really like. Pretty much, as humans, we can try to walk life’s fine lines.

As I look at the scattered pieces of false realities and loose ends, I’m challenged to look at the fragmented beauty right in front of me.

Shakespeare writes in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He asserts with bold certainty that life is scripted and predictable, as we continue to go through the same lines and choreographed movements like a carefully directed play.

But God gave us free will. He gave us the ability to move and speak and choose as we wish. When we choose the right thing purely, its beautiful and organic, and right. When the right thing is forced it rings false,
like a dripping sweet compliment or a forced apology. And that is why God made us people that are freed by his love, that freely choose to love.

Love isn’t a carefully marked path, but a stumbling journey of trying, and failing, and keeping on moving, even if you don’t know if you’re going in the right direction. The life that God calls us to isn’t a pin straight line of truth, but blind steps of trust and obedience. Never as a mere pawn or player in a prewritten play, but gentle steps that unfold our own stories.

These stories aren’t measured by their perfection or our performance. No, these aren’t stories reviewed by critics or competing to be on a bestseller list. Each story is God’s love story to us. As we fall, and get back up, as we doubt, and trust, and hide and seek, and find, our stories unravel into a picture of forgiveness, of redemption, and of imperfect progress.

I will never walk the tight rope of perfection as a mom, as a wife, a friend, or any person. So instead of training my steps to fall in perfect line with who I think I should be, I land in the soft place of grace, where I am restored and reshaped. Instead of placing impossible expectations on myself, I can live loved. Loved by God, loving myself, so I can pour love into the world around me. Because when I’m loved, being perfect doesn’t seem so important.

“Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love”

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

How to Be Content

BE

“Dove,” she crooned in her sweet baby voice.

“What? Dove? No, what did you say?”

“Dove, dove, dove,” she insisted, pointing at the mantel above the fireplace.

I thought my 18 month old daughter was pointing to the small wooden bird standing there beside the carved books, shaped in the letters “B,” and “E,” for each of my daughters. But, was it possible? I don’t remember even showing her a picture of a dove, and for goodness sake, wouldn’t she just say bird?

She was getting frustrated now, gesturing wildly, and saying the word again and again, gaining more and more confidence, “Dove, mommy. Mommy! Dove!” 

I stood and picked her up, carting over to the direction her chubby finger pointed. I left some distance from the bird, to see if she chose it herself. She lunged with open hands toward it, and so I plucked it from the shelf and handed it to her. She cradled it and gazed at it lovingly “:Dove.”

I could have missed it. This gorgeous moment with my daughter as she dazzled me with who God is creating her to be. I could haver hushed my baby’s persistent babbles, and swept her up to rush her to bed, and misplaced this moment like a doll’s lost shoe. For some reason, tonight, I lingered, and witnessed a fragile miracle.

Earlier as I sprayed and wiped my counters as my girls busied themselves with preparing a meal in their play kitchen, I prayed out loud, “God show me where you want me to be. There are so many things I love and long to do, but I want to be present with what you’re asking me to do right now. If its being the best mother and wife I can be, then help me to find joy and fulfillment in that.”

You see friends, I’ve been falling into the trap of gazing at other people’s grass. I want to do something impactful with my life. You know, something with a flash and a bang. Lately I’ve been thinking if I didn’t have the responsibilities before me, then I would have time to do something, more significant. Cringe. It sounds worse on a page before me, but sometimes I need to face my ugly truths to be delivered from them.

We all long for significance. To be known. And often in our culture of mega blogs, self publishing, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, we think the way to prove our worth is to be known by a thousand of our closest friends. We have platforms, and events, we want more likes, and shares, and followers. Church ministries count the number of heads to measure impact. We want to be fabulous, popular, right, knowledgable, and valued instead of simple, humble, open, seeking, and small. But when we look to be known in the way our world packages it, we can miss being known by the person right in front of us.

Life on life, hand in hand, sip by sip, we find that the heart of what we really crave is in the sweet moments wrapped in friendship, and motherhood, lost in moments we rush by looking for the next best thing.

This afternoon I met a friend for coffee and told her secrets. We watched our kids dig in the dirt and plant imaginary seeds.

I came home and danced with my girls. Watching Elyse learn to move again is a tiny wonder. Bree copied my goofy dance moves and helped me make waffles for dinner. 

And each moment was significant. It was beautiful, and small, real, and meaningful.

I long to be known, but then, time and time again I hear the dull thump of a hollow dream as God reminds me that nothing else but Him will fill me. 

The dove is in the story of Noah’s ark. It returns to Noah with an olive branch to show him that there is dry land. The dove represents peace to show God’s reconciliation with man after the flood. The dove is also the form the Holy Spirit takes over Jesus during his baptism in the Jordan. A dove could be another bird, but in the Christian faith, it isn’t. Its because of faith, that we see something more- we believe in more.

Elyse could have seen a bird but she didn’t. In a simple wooden bird, she saw a dove. I could chalk this up to a weird coincidence, but I don’t. I see my baby girl reminding me that I am already known, and I see God using a simple moment, to remind me that He is in our midst- among clumsy ballerinas, golden brown waffles, and a carved blue and red dove- perched beside the word “BE.”

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Chasing the Sun

ales-krivec-14570-2
In the dark tomb of fear,
Waiting for light of day,
The dark chill whispers; waiting
For mercy to appear.

Sing me a night song
Until it is daylight,
Hum to me hope
This night is so long.

Faith never waning,
For you I will wait,
Redemption in the mourning,
Roll the rock away.

Black fades to grey
A tapestry of dawn
The glow of sun is coming
Night turns to day.

Night flees without a trace
The sun rises boldly
Trickling water to a river
It tastes like Grace.

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

A New Reality

 


Elysecloseup

 

Its not often that I’m without words, but recently I have felt quiet and contemplative. The two words that have been on my lips most, are a diagnosis I struggle to pronounce, let alone understand: Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM).

These last few days since we’ve been home have felt like I’m underwater holding my breath. The same house, the same rituals and to do’s, the same family, but a very different reality.

I’m preparing myself to emerge back into the world with Elyse. It almost feels like when we introduced her to the world as a newborn, watching her every move with careful optimism, wanting to keep her within arms reach.

When you see her it might seem like you’re meeting any 18 month old toddler, her belly pooched out as she marches with a proud waddle. She makes one word declarations, wearing the world on her face with exaggerated expressions. When you see her, she’ll probably say “Hi” three times with her wide smile. You’ll notice her face is fuller and less blotchy,  her big wide eyes reflecting her enthusiasm, the shadows beneath them hint at tiredness . She might make wide circles around you, gaining momentum and confidence with each step as she clucks and coos with glee.

In these moments we get to celebrate life with her as it should be, an energetic baby enjoying and exploring the world around her.

hospital

At home we also deal with another, new reality.

Each morning and evening we give her Prednisone, a steroid with undesirable side effects such as insomnia, weight gain, aggression, blood sugar changes, osteoporosis, and stomach upset. To counteract unwanted effects we give her Calcium, Vitamin D and Zantac. Prednisone suppresses her immune system so we have to protect her from being exposed to unwanted cooties- meaning avoiding crowded enclosed places or large groups of children. 

Because the sun can worsen the effects of JDM we need to avoid the sun during peak hours, and be vigilant about protection. E is embracing the hat as her new accessory.

Elysehat

Once a week, we give her a shot that is a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate. We have to wear gloves to avoid contact with the very liquid that we inject into our baby’s skin. This is designed to work with the cortisteroid to quiet the overactive immune response that is attacking her skin and muscles .

The needle is tiny and the dose is very small.  Though difficult, we agree these are the steps we need to take right now. After 30 minutes of practicing on fake plastic skin, Nate played the brave daddy and gave her the first injection (I played the pregnant for 9 months card).

nateandehospital

Once a month we will go to the hospital for Elyse to receive a 6 hour IV drip of Intravenous Immune Globin (IVIG) which is a lot like a blood transfusion, but IVIG is made up of the plasma of up to 15,000 blood donors. Our nurse calls it liquid gold. I keep telling Elyse that it makes her sparkle.

E gets to play with a Physical Therapist twice a week until she rebuilds muscle strength and mobility, She thinks its pretty cool to have a personal trainer that gives her undivided attention, and beach balls.

E will have good moments, and moments when she is uncomfortable and fatigued. We hope the good days will be more and more. 

We’re still taking time to absorb our new reality; to figure out how our lives will be the same and very different.

Right now the words Juvenile Dermatomyositis taste bitter and unnatural. The doctor confirmed she’s the youngest child he’s seen with JDM, as the average age of onset is 7 years old.  I know that God lets us taste the hard things in life to help us appreciate the good. As we learn about suffering, we learn more about love. There is no turning back from this road that we’re on, and so we will trust God through this journey. We will celebrate God’s goodness; we will taste His fullness as you feed us; His faithfulness as you pray for us and walk beside us;  we will grow to understand how wide and how deep, how long and how high His love is, as we love our daughter, knowing somehow He loves her even more.

John9:1to3

 

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Simply Love

 

simply love 

Love is complicated,

Tangling us in knots of fear and uncertaity,
Nervous knots of joy and anticipation,
Love changes answers, challenges reason.

It is small like a dimple, it is big like a swollen belly,
Bitter like coffee, salty like tears
Sweet as syrupy pancakes.

It afflicts the strong, it comforts the weak
It breaks us, it makes us whole,
Love empowers us, changes us, humbles us.

Love is at the edge of our fingers,
 Its the next right thing, the hardest choice.

Love is brave,
Love is simple,
Love is life.

 

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Learning to Fly

 

bird
This is what I know.
I know my heart aches to watch my daughter crumple to the ground, her legs too weak to skip, or twirl, or run till she can’t catch her breath.
I know a mother shouldn’t have to sing lullabies to calm her baby as she twists and wrestles to be free, tears pooling in the corners of her eyes as she’s poked again and again.
I know the mom in the crowded waiting room of the ER, with her head bowed over the sleeping pile of a sick child, belongs at home with her feet propped on a table, her son tucked in his Thomas Train comforter in his bed.
I know I’m not alone in suffering. I know we can only drink life in as bittersweet cocktail of overflowing joy and aching emptiness.

But I know so much more.

I know I am blessed more than my words can ever express.
I know a daddy that pushes his baby around the hospital floors for hours on end, who wears an ash cross on his forehead, his eyes filled with tears, but his heart full of unwavering loyalty and trust. A husband that stays all night on one half of a twin cot because he knows his wife needs him.
I know a doctor run ragged with slumped shoulders, walking home, used up and tired, who’s hands have healed more lives than faces he can remember,
I know the warm blanket of peace wrapped around me amid the chorus of children’s cries and the dull ache of fear and uncertainty.
I know more food than my belly can hold, more prayers whispered than I can imagine, more kindness than I can repay
I know that when we’re broken, the love that binds us back together, makes us more complicated, and more beautiful.
I know a little girl who can’t walk, but believes she can “fly” through the trees in a blue plastic swing.
I know a girl who will walk, and skip, and run again, with a life story that sings like a love song,
I know a God that gives me the eyes to see His grace tucked in this corner of a hospital room lulled to sleep by the hum of IV monitors and the snores of my little bird.

fly

share the love
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest