Seasons

We are officially into the Fall season. The leaves are changing and the weather has begun to cool down. Fortunately for me I live in a place where I get to truly experience all 4 seasons.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this new season and the changes that come with it: colder weather, leaves changing, plants withering, etc.; but more than that the parallel seasons have to our own lives. We all experience different seasons of life and just like the changing seasons bring change so do our personal seasons bring about change.

I have found myself in a hard and challenging season as of late and so I am ready to welcome in a new changing season. It’s been a hard season. A waiting season. My season has been full of physical pain and exhaustion. Full of anxiety and fear of the unknown. I’ve been in and out of the doctor office, have had many labs drawn, injections had and new medications started. One positive test led to a specialist, which led to more tests and more waiting. The waiting season is the hardest season.

However, I have learned a few things in my waiting season.

I have learned a bit about grace. I have learned how to accept grace and extend grace, mostly extending and accepting grace within myself. I have learned that I cannot give to others what I haven’t already accepted for myself. So until I give myself grace, I cannot extend grace to others. There is grace in the moments I can’t be present, there is grace in the mound of laundry, there is grace in the nap taken, there is grace is the dirty dishes, there is grace in meal that didn’t get cooked. There is grace abounding. It is grace on top of grace already given. In that I have learned to both extend and accept grace.

I have learned about rest. What it really means to rest. Rest is not something that comes easy for us Americans and especially to mothers of young children. We are taught from a very young age that we should always be doing, always be moving. I have believed that lie. I have believed that if for one second I stopped to rest I had failed. During this season I’ve learned that it is in fact okay to rest, and that actually resting is necessary. Time management and knowing my boundaries has proven beneficial in a season requiring rest. I have to know my priorities and know my boundaries within my priorities and with that comes grace.

I have learned about humility. I am a strong-willed, independent, stubborn woman. I have been that way for as long as I can remember. With that also means I don’t ask for help. This season of life has left me with no other option than to humble myself and ask for help. On the days when the pain is so intense I have to ask my husband to help me get dressed, to open the jar, to cut the apple, etc.. I have had to lean on my sisters and ask for help. I have humbled myself enough to accept meals prepared by my sisters, so that I could use that little bit I had in me to focus on my husband and my children. Humility does not come easy for me, but I am learning that it really is the only way.

I have learned about marriage. I recently joked with my husband about how this is what they must have meant when they said, “in sickness and in health.” That was not a joke, it is truth. My husband has loved me so well through it all. He steps in when I need to step out. He loves me even when the house is a mess, he hasn’t had a home cooked meal in a week, the kids are all whacked out and I’m in his arms weeping. Marriage is a partnership. My husband carries a little extra weight on his strong shoulders these days and he does it without complaint. We have learned new ways of connecting intimately and deeply. And we have learned to love each other well and that is the most important thing.

I have learned a bit about surrender. Surrendering my ideas and visions for my life and instead just being in each moment/day. Surrendering my life and my health to God, knowing and trusting that He has a plan regardless of the test results. He is bigger than whatever is attacking my body.

I have learned to appreciate the good days and rest through the hard ones.

 

 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

-Galatians 6:2

We are called to sympathize with our sisters and assist them in all their weaknesses, grievances and trials. I was recently reminded of why this is so important. I sat with some of my sisters recently as we all shared our hearts. We were all weary travelers who were in need of someone to carry our luggage.

I am not one who readily and easily admits that her luggage has become a bit to heavy to carry alone. I become so accustomed to the extra weight that I often forget I am even carrying it. Thankfully I have a village of sisters who so faithfully remind me to lay down the burdens and who so willingly help me carry them. I am not sure how women who don’t have a village of sisters manage. Without my sisters I would be buried underneath the weight of the burdens I carry.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

-James 5:16

The sins and the burdens I carry feel to heavy and dark. I feel suffocated- like I am gasping for air and hanging on by my finger tips. Then I sit with my sisters for a moment and confess my sins and lay my burdens down and then in an instant the weight is gone and the darkness fades to light. And in the same moments my sisters are doing the same. I am not sure about you, but I am not one who will easily confess my sins and lay my burdens down. But there is something about doing it alongside my sisters. When they are willing to show up and be seen it makes it easier for me to do the same and when we ourselves are willing to show up and be seen we leave a little braver than when we came.

My village is: Life-changing. Beautiful. Raw. Honest. Full of light. Hope. Grace. Truth.

What does yours look like? If you don’t have sisters who come alongside you and pray for you and carry your burdens, then you better go find some.

Youthful Perspective

“Those who look for beauty, find it.”

-Unknown

The other morning I was driving with my daughter and we had come to a red light. We had the most beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains right in front of us. Nothing was blocking that view. I sat in silence admiring the view and taking it all in. It’s so refreshing. It breathes life into my soul.

My daughter broke the silence. She wasn’t speaking to me per-say, she was just stating what she was seeing. From the back seat I hear her say, “wow that is such an amazingly, beautiful view.” To which I responded with, “yes, isn’t it so amazing to look out and see the snow-capped mountains in all their beauty?” She then said, “no mom, I was talking about those little dirt piles that look like mountains and have snow on them. They are so beautiful.”

Instantly my five year old is teaching me a lesson and reminding me of truth.

She reminded me of what was said in John 1 verse 3, that through Him all things were made. God created that very dirt. God created man from the dust of the ground. He created the snow and He told the snow when to fall and it obeyed and because of that it lay peacefully on the pile of dirt. Then I was reminded of what was said in Ecclesiastes 3 verse 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” EVERYTHING is made beautiful. God made in that perfect moment a beautiful snow-capped pile of dirt in line with beautifully, majestic snow-capped mountains.

I wonder what our lives would look like if we decided to stop for a brief moment and look around at the beauty that surrounds us. Would we even notice? Would we stop and let that beauty breathe life into our souls? Would we thank God himself for the beautiful snow-capped pile of dirt, knowing He created that?

Not only was I reminded in that moment that EVERYTHING has been made beautiful in its time, but I was reminded about perspective. It really is all about our perspective. In that moment all I saw was what I wanted to see. The beautiful mountains in front of me. I didn’t want to look around and notice the piles of dirt or anything else that surrounded me in that moment.

Then I think about the things that happen in life. The crappy, painful things we all have to endure at one point or another as the cost of living in a fallen and broken world. I really have two choices in those moments. I can chose to only look at the mountain in front of me or I can open my eyes and see the beauty around me.

What would happen if in the face of ugly dirt piles we clung to the truth and clung to the promise that God will use EVERYTHING for His purpose? What if we looked evil square in the eye and spoke the words of  Genesis 50 verse 20, “as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” How much more beautiful our lives would be if we simply looked at the piles of dirt and reminded ourselves that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.

It’s easy to be consumed and narrow minded in the face of adversity. Let’s start being consumed more by God and less by ourselves and the things of this world. Let’s start opening our minds and seeing beauty in the snow-capped dirt piles rather than only the snow-capped mountains.

Peaks and Valley’s

Call it bias but I live in the most beautiful place on earth. My view day in and day out is breath-taking. I get to stare at the beautiful Rocky Mountains. I am blessed that I can drive 20 minutes to be completely engulfed by their presence. It is not a sight I ever take for granted.
I escape to those mountains often, especially when my heart is heavy. They are a safe place. They serve to remind me of truth, of who I am and who I am meant to be. They remind me that there is more to this life than what’s in front of me.

Recently my family and I decided to go spend a cooler summer day in the mountains to hike and bask in the beauty that surrounded us. I took in the beauty, I breathed in the fresh mountain air, I silently listened to the sound of the rushing river below and I let it all consume me. It was a healing moment. It was a majestic moment. It was a moment that reminded me of part of my own story.

The mountains do all those things because when I was a lost, hurting, scared, lonely, heavyhearted teenage girl I spent a week backpacking in those mountains and my life was forever changed.

I showed up over-packed and naive. Truthfully I thought it would be a cake walk. I didn’t realize I would have to carry a heavy pack with all my things, plus food up a mountain and back down. I didn’t realize I would have to sleep outside in a sleeping bag vulnerable to anything wild that lived there. The trip was suppose to be a week of escaping my ugliness not facing it head on.

As we hiked along the trail I remember saying to my trail guide that, “ it was really cool when you can actually see how far you’ve come and can actually see you’re going up.” My guide made a comment following that, that has stuck with me ever since; she said, “ yeah it’s kind of like life we can’t see where we are going until we get to the top and then we can see how far we’ve come.” That very conversation is why the mountains will always be my go to place when my heart is heavy. Sometimes when we are in the valley it’s hard to see where we are going. We feel like we are doing all this work and nothing is changing, we aren’t going anywhere. Truthfully it’s like that when climbing to the top of the mountain as well. There are so many moments when you feel like you have made no progress and you’ll never reach the top. Life is much the same way. We gotta hike through the valley to get to the top of the mountain. We can sit and relish in that beauty for a moment. We can see how far we have come and then we begin to make our descent back down the mountain.

That’s where I struggle. I so often want to stay on the mountain top where life is quiet and peaceful. I don’t want to have to climb back through the valley just to go back up to the top of the next mountain. Then I am humbly and graciously reminded that life is meant to be lived in both the valley and the mountain tops. It’s a beautiful and wonderful mixture of both.

So here’s to living in the peaks and the valley’s because both are equally as beautiful, breath-taking and exhilarating as the other.

Fighting the Good Fight

I was reminded of Theodore’s words in his speech often referred to as The Man in the Arena this morning.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
–Citizenship in a Republic, Theodore Roosevelt
Oh what a true and powerful statement and one that is oh so fitting for my current stage of life. My passion and calling are coming alive before my eyes and I am sometimes holding on for dear life wondering what the hell I am doing. I am in the arena right now and in some moments I feel like I am getting my face marred and at moments I am failing. My failure may not be seen by those on the sidelines watching. But my opponent sees and he relishes in that. He knows where to hit to knock me down and he knows which words to speak to weaken me. He is cunning. He is a master of the arts. He knows how to fight. He is ruthless. But I’ll let you in on a little secret… He is weak. He has no power, unless I relinquish control to him.

He tried last night to knock me out of the arena. He tried to convince me I couldn’t do it. He was right. I couldn’t do it without my trainer. It’s my trainers knowledge and strength I draw from. When I wanted to be selfish and enjoy my night my opponent fed that. He almost had me for a moment. Until my trainer reminded me that this was what I was built for. This is what I had been training for. He put on my gear and sent me into the arena. When I struggled with what move to make next he gently reminded me. When I was up against the ropes he gave me a little extra push off so I could regain my composure and keep pressing on.

My place will never be with the cold and timid soul because that’s where my opponent rests. Even if I loose a few I will not fail. I have a trainer who always wins out. The victory belongs to him and to him be the credit, because after all it really isn’t about me.

Beauty

As a mother of a beautiful  daughter it is my  responsibility to speak truth  to her and to help nurture  and build her self-esteem.  This means I in turn also  have to build my own self- esteem and be sure to not  speak any negative things  about myself in front of my  daughter. I refuse to ever  look in a mirror and call  myself fat— even on the days  when I feel like a whale. Why?  Because I don’t want my  daughter to overhear that  and think that her worth and beauty are ever defined by  her outward appearance. The  outside world will soon  enough tell her otherwise,  but by the time that happens  I hope that our work inside  the home will have a firm  foundation that will not be  easily shaken by the things  and people of this world.

My child dresses herself (and  usually doesn’t match) and  sometimes refuses to brush  her hair because she likes  messy hair. Yes, I let her  leave the house looking like  a hot mess. The reason? One  day soon enough she won’t  leave the house because her  clothes won’t be what the “ cool kids” are wearing and  one day she will refuse to  leave the house with messy  hair and that will be the  start of “bad hair days.”  I  look forward to those days. I  look forward to them because  they will be teachable  moments. They will be moments  I can use to remind her of who she  really is and where her  beauty and worth come from.

I am sitting here writing  this after I received a text message from a dear friend that read, “It’s always a good  start to my day when my mom  calls me fat.” When did it  ever become okay for us to  tell our children they are  fat!?!?! It is absolutely  unacceptable. We are suppose  to be a safe place for our  children to land. A place  they come to for truth and  reassurance. A place to be  reminded that what the world  has to say about us and our  bodies doesn’t matter. I am  blown away. I am enraged. I  think about my friend who by  the way is the most beautiful  person I have ever known and  is not overweight by any  means, but mostly I think  about my daughter. I think  about my daughter because I  can’t imagine being a mother  who speaks those words or any  hurtful words that tear my  child down. Our words have a profound effect on our children.

We have a little conversation that happens anytime we are going to play with our friends whether they are new friends or old friends. I adopted this from my dear friend because I love the simple reminder that it teaches our children.The conversation goes like this:

Me: Okay love, look at my eyeballs (so I know that she is listening)– what is the most important thing?

Emma: That we love each other mommy!

Me: And how do we do that honey?

Emma: We use kind hands and kind words.

I love the simplicity of the conversation, but mostly I love that it teaches my daughter to be mindful with her words and her hands because they have just as much impact in a persons life as mine and my husbands words have on her. It also teaches my daughter the importance of being kind and loving to herself. We’ve all heard the saying, “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” If my daughter can learn that if she wants to be treated kindly and loved well she has to treat others that same way, oh what a difference that will make.

She is a beautiful soul and her love for life is contagious. She radiates beauty inside and out and I am quick to remind her of that daily.

I have had several important people in my life who have been torn down and belittled by the most important people in their lives– their parents. And the problem is not just with our daughters but with our sons as well. Their self confidence and self love are just as important as our daughters. And I for one refuse to ever belittle or tear down my children. They are perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t want them any other way. I will love my children regardless of what they look like, who they become and the choices they make. I will be one to remind them of their beauty and worth and where that truly comes from, because after all they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

So let’s start loving one another and using kind words to build our children up so that they in turn can be individuals who use their words to build others up. Let’s learn to love ourselves and let that self love radiate onto others. And for those of you with kiddos whether they be itty bitty or full grown– start speaking kindly to them. Let your voice echo truth when others try to drown them in the lies.

The heart of the matter

As a mother of a young daughter I have a huge responsibility to build her self-esteem, character and speak truth to her. I make it a daily habit to remind my beautiful little love of just how special she is.

I remind her of who she is and where that truly comes from. I spend time reminding her she is beautiful on the outside because that is important but it’s not my main focus. I want her to know who she is deep in her soul! I want to remind her of her strengths, her intelligence, her kindness, her gentleness and the love she possess. She will always be beautiful on the outside, but what is that if she has an ugly inside?

The other night my sweet little love and I were sharing some evening cuddles after our story time. She looked over at me and asked me if I liked myself and my heart. I looked her in the eyeballs and responded with, “Why of course I do honey. Do you like yourself and your heart?” She responded with ” Well yes mom I do!” Those moments and those conversations are shaping that young girls mind and thought process. I once read a blog post about how mother’s should never speak negatively about themselves because what we give out is what they perceive even when that is not our intention. I vowed in that moment to never speak a negative word about myself in front of my daughter. I believe that had I answered that question with a negative response she would have done the same. They mirror us more than we think and sometimes more than we’d like them too.

Since I remind my daughter of who she is often and make it a point to tell her all the things I love about her she is able to know that and be a strong, confident young girl. An example of that:

There is a kid in my daughters preschool class who is not very kind to her and says hurtful words. The other day at school he told her she was not very smart. I of course reminded her of the truth and then told her I was sorry that he says unkind things to her. Her response, “It’s okay mom he just doesn’t know who I am!”

She is absolutely right. He does not know who she is and the fact that she can respond in a way that most of us have been trying to figure out for years is amazing. She wouldn’t have been able to do that if she didn’t know the truth about who she. She doesn’t have to believe those things at 4 years old. She doesn’t even have to fully understand what they mean. All she has to do is know they are true and be reminded of them often because there will come a time when she will know what they mean and she will have to believe them and with enough practice and repetition she will remain a strong, confident woman.