Body, Soul and Ice Cream

525,600 minutes…. 525,000 moments so dear… 525,000 journeys to plan… 
How do you measure a year in the life?

maybe I measure mine in Ice Cream and Wine…

photo courtesy of Flickr user fka sunny

photo courtesy of Flickr user fka sunny

Last week, after accepting an offer on our house (pending inspection…) we took the kids out for ice cream at Too Tall’s Tasty Treats to celebrate. This is the local ice cream shop down the road from our house.

I’ll admit that it’s a ridiculous name for an oddly located, roadside ice cream shop, but now it’s MY ice cream shop. It’s the place Kel’s been running for flurries to soothe the pain of a bad day as we binged on Netflix and cared for Clara, both in and out of utero.

As I finished my chocolate Reeses flurry on the sticky picnic table, I thought about our year on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids, the routines we fell into, the restaurants we frequented, the walks we took, the discoveries we made.

The ways in which we nestled into this neighborhood, spread out and called it our own.

How we always got takeout burgers from Charlies or Pasta from Fred’s on date night.
How we spent almost the entire year with paint in our fingernails and on our forearms.
How our kids rode their bikes back and forth in front of the house.
How we cursed the cottonwood tree for covering our lives in a second winter of obnoxious white fluff.

For a season this was ours. And now it isn’t anymore, pending a few weeks and a few hundred signatures on a few thousand pieces of paper it will be the locale for completely new life.

When I handed over our home in Oklahoma to a sweet newlywed couple I wrote this essay entitled “Letter to a new Homeowner.”  And I still hold it as one of my personal favorite pieces, seriously click the link… it is worth your time.

This home is a place for staying but it’s also a place to for going somewhere.  Every season will give way to a new one and lessons learned add up to progress and depth.  As you stay within these walls, you’ll move and change as a family in ways that you never imagined.  No home leaves you the same, who knows where this home may take you?” Continue reading

Giving Up on Why

Today I am guest posting for my dear friend across the pond, Tanya Marlow to kick off her fall series on God and Suffering. Hope you’ll start here and click over and as always thank you for your presence and readership.

9178060676_78fc75f489_b

This past spring, my husband graduated from Seminary after a seven-year, marathon journey of taking classes when we could afford it, both time-wise and financially. He started on campus, and finished up with intensive courses and online.

To celebrate, we made the seven-hour trip down to Kentucky for the commencement ceremonies. As I took my seat after checking our two children into child-care a single, paralyzing thought occurred to me.

I am here alone.

I was surrounded by a gymnasium of people, clustered together to celebrate their graduates. Some had signs and balloons, most chatted happily as they waited for the ceremony to begin and there I was, literally alone in a crowd.

I started to cry, and masked it by flipping through the program, hoping no one would notice the lonely woman bawling.

Let me fill you in on a little of the backstory as to why I found myself alone that afternoon.

Shortly before I met him, my husband’s father died from two, rare types of brain cancer. The beginning of our relationship was steeped in his grief. His birth mother died a week earlier and, although he hadn’t had contact with her for fifteen years, her death was a hard blow as, with it, all hopes of reconciliation were shattered.

A year and a half later, I received a phone call from my Mother: my father had passed away overnight in his office chair after a sudden heart attack at the age of 49.

 

Five years after that, another phone call: my mother had taken her own life on the train tracks of our hometown.

So that afternoon I sat at seminary graduation alone, feeling the weight of our collective losses. It wasn’t the first time I felt the holes left behind by our parents, but this time it was particularly sharp.

So many people who should have been there beside me…

As the graduates received their diplomas the people who had gathered to honor them stood to cheer. A few names in, a paralyzing thought occurred to me: “I will be the only one who stands and cheers for him; he deserves so much more than just my lonely voice.”

God why did you have to take them all?

Click here to head on over to Tanya’s blog to finish up. 

The day I realized I had Kindergarten all wrong

“Her mom probably cried when she left for Kindergarten and I celebrated with my friends by going out to brunch.”

I picked up this (mis)quote somewhere along the road (I think it’s from Jen Hatmaker and I think it’s from her blog, or her book Seven. Forgive me for my terrible sourcing here.)

I’ve repeated it with friends during friendly banter about how ready I was for my children to go off to school.

I’m one of THOSE moms, I said, the ones who will drop them off at school and head for the coffee shop with a grin on my face.

And then came the night before Kindergarten. As I emerged from the bathroom after brushing my teeth Kel signaled for me to follow him into the kid’s bedroom.

“This is the last night we have two preschoolers, she starts Kindergarten tomorrow… We have a school kid!”

We squinted at each other in the dim light and exchanged some sort of “holy crap” type look complete with raised eyebrows.

10559967_539382776567_8120253102215838052_n

She was going to school, for real school, not preschool but like big, huge, out in the world school.

And then I started to cry, and panic, and wish that we had some paper bags in the house so I could hyperventilate properly. (Kel offered to get me a plastic bag to which I responded “are you trying to kill me?!?”)

We headed to bed to chat about it all more and I started sobbing to him.

“I get it! I get why Moms cry when they send their kids to school! It’s not because they can’t stand to be without them for a while, it’s because this world is so damn scary and mean and we won’t be there! I need five more years to talk to her about All. The. Things!”

“Like how to be resilient when people are mean to her! And how to show love to a kid who everyone else is being mean to! And how she needs to believe what we teach her about who she is and who God says she is so if someone teases her for being too busy or picking her nose she will know that what they say doesn’t matter because people suck Kel! And OH MY GOD someone is going to offer her drugs like tomorrow, I just know it, we haven’t talked about drugs. I need five more years, I won’t be there! She is NOT READY for the big world.”

I am not ready to let the world have a crack at her. Not yet.

Because guys? The world can be so mean, so so mean and she is sweet, she is all kitties and big brown eyes and almost too many hugs and kisses every single day.

I don’t want careless people to break that.

Do you remember how scary school can be? And how mean kids are? I may as well toss her to the wolves as send her to Kindergarten!

I know she will come home crying and I know that we will have 17,842 more talks about life as it’s happening, complete with names, faces and context.

But Kindergarten day was dawning and I felt suddenly obscenely unprepared.

Still, the sun rose and we pulled on her skort and her polo. I did her hair in pigtails WITH little braids in them, completely exhausting my updo skills.

10653359_539534068377_7963399223809581363_n

We walked down to the fantastic Montessori school and I kept breathing as we stood amongst a crowd of other excited buzzing parents and children.

When her teacher walked out I eyeballed her and thought something along the lines of: you better cherish her little heart and see how wonderful she is or I will break you in half…(just kidding Ms Jennifer… if you’re reading this I’m sorry and I swear I will rock snack duty next week.)

It’s like this:

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ~Elizabeth Stone

This quote nails it.

Suddenly you wake up and you send your unprepared heart to Kindergarten, and it’s all exposed and out there. You can’t swoop in to protect it and past experience tells you that there’s a 1000% chance it will be broken time and time again.

You think of every mean thing that happened to you and try frantically to protect your child from enduring the same. You know broken is beautiful and that she has to learn to endure heartache, to believe in who she is because she’s had to defend it, to see the world through other people’s eyes because she has access to them…

And you want to believe that God has her, but your life tells you that his “in control” and your “in control” are worlds apart. He will allow hard things to happen to her, the bitter and the sweet are coming, neither of which call to question his power or love… somehow.

10354095_539534053407_7102992503593769504_n

So you send your heart to Kindergarten and you make peace with the lump in your throat and the look of terror on your face. You remind yourself that you are new at being a school-kid mom and that you have much to learn as well.

And you will learn, both of you, and it will be some sort of okay even though it will constantly take you by surprise.

And you realize the morning of Kindergarten that not only do you have no idea how to spell the world, that you grossly misjudged how it would feel to send her through those doors to face the big world, to let it have access to her.

See how I spelled it wrong? I clearly don't get Kindergarten. Stupid german words.

See how I spelled it wrong? I clearly don’t get Kindergarten. Stupid german words.

Oh world, be gentle
Oh God shape her, May I always be her safe place second only to you as you are the only one who has staying power on this earth.
Oh Noelle, be brave, be unapologetically yourself, be a good friend, a passionate learner.
Oh God… be with her in that classroom, preserve that heart so she can show the world how much beauty you jam packed in there… 

If you like this, there’s more to come. Use the box below to have new posts from this blog delivered to your inbox.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurnerAnd when share with your friends, well that makes me pretty happy. 

You can also find me on twitter and Facebook as well. Join the conversation on all fronts! That’s my recommendation…

Just don’t Die: An Update, A Theme Song and a Shout Out to Survival Mode

photo copy

This is a scene from our Sunday morning breakfast counter. In case you need me to break it down for you: That’s french toast, next to a bottle of wallpaper remover and a hand held paint cup we use for cutting in.

Shall we go over a list of things that were driving me nuts at the moment I snapped this picture?

1) Those chemicals are far too close to our food, we’re all going to get cancer from this breakfast. Why ARE THEY SHARING THE SAME SPACE?
2) We try to eat grain free, in theory, lately with all the stress we just eat all the grainy gluten we can get our hands on…. topped with sugar, because I’m pregnant and the rest of my family has a child’s palate.
3) That french toast and the time to I took to take this picture made us horribly late for church, not even our church, but a church visit in which Kel was speaking.

This is life right now, it’s just normal next to chaos, both fighting to share the spotlight.

Moving has been extra hard on me, I’m very sensitive to lack of routine and chaos. When you pair this with the end of the preschool school year it means that all my organization is in a box somewhere and all of my “me time” to catch up on writing time is gone.

For years I’ve beaten myself up and told myself to go with the flow a bit more, always wondering why I couldn’t be one of those laid back people who could roll with whatever and be really and truly cool with it.

I give up, I am not one of those laid back people who can thrive in chaos, so I may as well work with what I have, with who I am.

There is no use in trying to live your own life wishing you had someone else’s skill set. It’s far more helpful to navigate your life in light of who you actually are.

And right now I am a Highly Sensitive, ENFJ in survival mode: pregnant, in the midst moving into a new house that we’re tweaking, helping plant a church in the midst of summer (meaning the kids and I are spending most every day together, leaving me precious little time and energy to tackle projects.)

This is not my optimal setup, this is not my wheelhouse. And that’s okay.

Survival Mode, I make peace with you, this is not life forever but it is life for now, things are going to be mixed up and chaotic.

I have adopted this new theme song, that has always made me smile in the midst of chaos and survival living.

Watch this video, because Seinfeld always says it better

“Just don’t die, don’t die, don’t die, don’t die
There’s a fish, there’s a rock, who cares, don’t die. 
I don’t wanna die, don’t let me die
Let’s swim and breathe and live,
cause living is good and dying, not as good.”

It’s sort of the grown up version of Finding Nemo’s “Just keep swimming.”

Things are crazy right now.
Yes I am blessed, but these circumstances are overwhelming.
And that’s okay, I am who God created me to be, navigating it as best I can.

And right now my best life looks like this:

1) We have everything we need to function, No, the house doesn’t look like I’d love it to, but freaking out will only make us all miserable so I’m going to try to avoid that.
2) Kel is already overloaded at work and overloading him at home will also only make him… and then all of us… miserable. So we go at a pace that includes rest and breaks, even though this takes longer we all come out feeling alive and far less burned out on it all. None of us are machines.
3) I prayed for this house, these children and the ability to be home with them, yes it’s hard, but these answered prayers oughtn’t be thrown away.
4) I’m pregnant and even though I am in my second trimester, my energy level isn’t where it usually would be, a perfect playroom and living room isn’t worth an unhealthy pregnancy. ‘Nuff said.

There’s more, I’m sure, but this is the gist of it.

And if all this fails (and sometimes it does) I think of my dear friend’s new daughter, a beautiful little five year in Ethiopia, who they are in the process of adopting.

She is in an orphanage with developmental delays, most of which are a result of an rough childhood.

These is truly hard, truly tough, truly overwhelming circumstances and her story never fails to bring tears to my eyes and to remind me that the color of my cabinets is meaningless in the light of what is truly important to the human heart.

Unconditional Love, acceptance and safety.

Selah and Amen.

Oh and if you would like to donate anything at all to help the O’Neal family bring their daughter home, please click here to donate.

You will likely be hearing more about this little girl in the weeks to come, please continue to pray for her and this sweet family as they prepare to welcome her home. 

Does transition overwhelm you? What have you learned about yourself in seasons such as these? 

Don’t miss a post, use this handy box below to subscribe over email, or click the bloglovin icon on the top left to sign up that way.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurnerAnd when share with your friends, well that makes me pretty happy. 

You can also find me on twitter and Facebook as well. Join the conversation on all fronts! That’s my recommendation…

The Book that is Keeping Me Sane for Move Number 7 (review of The Nesting Place)

What am I up to over the next week?

Oh not much, just two birthday parties (both Noelle) two graduations (Noelle from preschool, Kel from Seminary) and closing on a house.

This is on top of the church plant, the pregnancy and the normal details of our life.

So honestly, I’m feeling overwhelmed with details. All these beautiful, gorgeous, fun details that I want to give intentional thought to, but lack the time… or energy.

I’m feeling strapped, by both cash and time.

I want to invest a bit of both in our new home but if you review the details above it’s pretty obvious that I am limited across the board. Andplusalso did I mention I’m still in the final stages of my first trimester with baby 3?

Normally I would feel stressed to the point of tear-filled anxiety over all of this, but I’m trying a new approach, some of which comes from this book and its gorgeous tagline:

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

If you’ve spent much time over at The Nester‘s Blog this phrase isn’t new.

But when it’s implemented? When the seeds of it take root in your thought life? It’s revolutionary, at least it has been to this Idealist.

Kel and I have been married for eight years and this will be our seventh move. Seventh guys. Seriously, I want to feel settled.

We started in an apartment complex here in Grand Rapids, which I painted some of the worst colors imaginable.

Then we moved to a cinder block apartment in a partially condemned building at Seminary.

188205_502707713687_7837_n

drinking completely contraband wine in seminary. SUCH a bad girl.

That was depressing my soul so we moved half a block a sweet little yellow duplex, my favorite place that we lived before kids.

40274_507909549167_1098274_n

Second anniversary, who needs shoes?

Six months later Kel was offered a job in Oklahoma so we loaded a truck and moved across the country where we moved into a rental that had a few bugs (literally)  oh AND a pull out stovetop.

I was newly pregnant and need to nest so we purchased new construction home and finished it ourselves, meaning we told the builders how we wanted it finished. We loved it, brought both our babies through those doors and left with bittersweet feelings to move back home.

208790_504380566277_2557_n

Back in Michigan we moved into a rental ranch in a fantastic neighborhood that has been an absolute gift to our family, but where we never really settled in.

One year later we are moving to a lovely two story in North East Grand Rapids which we affectionally refer to as “Our Grandma House” because it’s still decorated with floral wallpaper and pink carpeting.

photo

gorgeous new house preview!

More on this house later, I think I’m going to take a foray into home decor blogging now and again. It’s going to be fun, but like I said there is much to do, to think about and to be overwhelmed by.

So, with all this going on, I bought this book, on a whim at Barnes and Noble with $20 (It’s MUCH cheaper on Amazon) I really should have saved for paint or curtains or milk.

photo copy

My well loved, already slightly dogged eared in two weeks copy.

And I am here to tell you, it is the best purchase I have made in months. I couldn’t put it down or help myself from bringing it on play dates to show all my friends. 

The Nesting Place by “The Nester” IE Myquillin Smith, has infused grace and patience in my thought life as I approach this new home.

As she told her story of their thirteen moves and that all too familiar feeling of “The next house is the one I will really love and work on” I found myself amen-ing, tearing up and reading paragraphs out lous to Kel.

This book spoke to my soul.

If I pick out the wrong paint colors (uh, been there!) it will be okay. Why?
Because “Sometimes you have to make something imperfect before you can make it beautiful.” ~ The Nesting Place

My throw pillows are as flat as pancakes and this should make me glad. Why? Because it’s a sign that people have found comfort there, time and time again.

There is so much lovely imperfection that we find ourselves embarrassed by or apologizing for when in reality our homes are places of love that should be a refuge for those who live there and those who stop by.

I haven’t always been great at this, I get easily discouraged by our home budget, frustrated by the stray legos in the corner and crabby at my husband for always sitting on the couch in such a way that makes the cushions look weird and smooshy.

In reality, this is the place where the bulk of our life will play out and if I want a life infused with grace and peace, it starts with me. It starts at home.

This book is speaking to our my soul about our move
This book is teaching me to be a more understanding mom and a more gracious wife.
This book was a gift, a total splurge that panned out and was worth more than I spent.

It has a story that many will resonate with, grace that everyone needs and practical tips will prove  invaluable as we nest into our new home.

You’ll love it, I’d loan it to you but, I need it, I refer to it, I love it.

And I don’t want to give away the ending, but she shares a lesson about a celebrity death that struck her deeply and taught her a life lesson. This is uncanny because the same thing happened to me, same celebrity, very similar lesson.

This and basically every third sentence in the book caused me to adore Myqullin, her style and her grace-filled perspective on life, faith and home. I will be a regular visitor to her blog and a regular purchaser of this book for weddings, showers and housewarming gifts.

What is the one thing that is holding you back from nesting in your current place? 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, if you use them to make purchases on amazon you will help support this blog… and this blogger. 

Don’t miss a post, use this handy box below to subscribe over email, or click the bloglovin icon on the top left to sign up that way.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

You can also find me on twitter and Facebook as well. Join the conversation on all fronts! That’s my recommendation…

Waiting Tables: Lenten Baptism Post for Megan Tietz at SortaCrunchy

Today I’m honored to be writing about my family and the promises of Baptism for my dear friend Megan Tietz of Sorta Crunchy. I’ll start you off here, then you can head over to her place to finish on up. And while you’re there, do dig into what she’s doing to observe Lent this year through her Waiting Tables series. It’s been profoundly helpful and encouraging for me in this season.

flickr.com user antique nature

flickr.com user antique nature

I was baptized as an infant in February of 1982, with my family gathered in the pews of the stained glass church on Baldwin Street. The same church where my parents were married and my grandparents were founding members.

I was baptized as an adult in late August, 2003 in the center of a large church, surrounded by plastic grey chairs with a few friends and family members scattered in the midst of thousands of others.

It was a profound day, full of awkwardness and freedom. There is nothing comfortable about standing in front of a crowd in cotton baptismal shorts, being submerged in a hot tub by someone you only know a little. There is nothing commonplace about leaving soggy footprints on church carpet as you tearfully make your way through the aisles. But for me this mess a thing of wonder, a miracle. After all, faith is not comfortable and baptism is such a profound gift that the dripping mess fits the radical newness it represents.

Dead with Christ and Alive in his resurrection, leaving the old behind in the water, grabbing breath as a new creation.

Imagine how much baggage has been left at the bottom of baptismal hot tubs.

As I mentioned above, I’ve technically been baptized twice which is a real church taboo. So, while my adult baptism was freeing and beautiful, it somehow felt a bit subversive. My entire family is Reformed and believes in infant baptism, so when it came to this evening I worried they would think I was invalidating the beautiful gift they’d given me as an infant.

It was out of this concern that I decided not to invite any family beyond my parents to the baptism, I worried it would cause an issue and I didn’t want them to fuss over it in the first place. So that evening, while spirit-led and memorable to me, went unobserved by most people in my life.

Please head over to Megan’s place to finish the story. 

Thank you for reading, I honor and deeply appreciate your heart and your eyes. To have each new post from this blog delivered to your inbox, enter your address in the box below. 

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

You can also find me on twitter and Facebook as well. Join the conversation on all fronts! That’s my recommendation…

How to meet and marry an Okie (on the internet) part 1

I get this question a least twice a week, in real life and on the internet: Did’t you just move from Oklahoma? Yes. How did you end up in Oklahoma? My husband, Kel is from Oklahoma so we went there because he had good job offers in his home base.

Follow up question: How did you meet and marry an Okie?

Well, sit back and read on: and give grace in the moments where you find yourself wanting to travel back in time and smack 22 year old Leanne across the face.

2408584527_d92fdb10c1_z

As we cranked out that Friday night’s pies we realized that we had a thousand things in common from the same car to the same middle name.

It was kismet and the start of a beautiful friendship, in which she encouraged me to start a xanga weblog.

What’s a xanga weblog? It was blogging, but it was a site comprised of blogs where you could associate and get to know other bloggers by common interests etc…

I was game, so start one I did. I was recently single for the first time since High School and determined to stay so for a while, so I took up new things, like guitar. Because it’s SO ORIGINAL to take up guitar in your early twenties… 

And since I was an accomplished guitar player after two weeks of lessons I joined a “blog-ring” called “Christian Guitar Players. If the shoe fits… 

Then one night after a late night at the pizza parlor I started clicking through the other xanga-folk who were accomplished, Jesus-loving guitar players such as myself.

Click… Read a post… leave a comment…repeat….

Then I came across this guy from Oklahoma, he seemed cool. The deep sort of cool… he’d written a post about church and his Dad’s battle with brain cancer, so I left him a comment:

“Hi, I got your weblog through a random click of the mouse.. I completely agree with your thoughts about what church is and isn’t… blessings to your family.”

He wrote back the next day via a comment on my blog: “Hey, I just started reading your xanga… you seem like a person that I could really get to know and converse with… I’ll be keeping up with you… ~laterz~”

And those are the first exchanges of our relationship.

Then we didn’t talk for months because in those six months he was offline and burying his Father after a heart-wrenching battle with brain cancer.

Honestly I forgot about him, it was one comment after all!

Then the following fall he was back and commenting on nearly everything I wrote. I had to go back and check… “is that the guy from June?”

Yep. It was that guy.

So we started commenting on each other’s posts, a lot.
Then we starting chatting on AIM (including a definition of AIM & feeling old)
Then we started emailing each other at our yahoo email addresses.

Then one night he typed something along the lines of “I bet you have an accent.”
I informed him strongly that I was a blank canvas, I had the lack of an accent.
Gauntlets were thrown and a phone call was made.
Me: “Hey, this is Leanne…” (dear God what was I thinking, calling a crazy internet boy?!)
Kel: “I know, you have an accent.”

Insert my laughing, protesting and generally feeling giggly and awkward before hanging up a few minutes later.

Weeks passed full of emailing and time spent on AIM.

Then one night I was up late watching a movie, a romantic comedy where everyone was screwing each other over on purpose and I started to cry. No one really loves each other anymore! They’re just in it for what they can get! This love thing is pointless, I may was well give up.  It was Intolerable Cruelty, I think.  

I went to check the computer, in that day I was using the shared family computer. No smart phones, no laptops, just me hogging the computer late at night, probably with ice cream.

Kellasatou, that was his handle, was online so I told him I was feeling bummed out and about to go to bed.

He asked if I wanted to talk about it, one the phone, I said sure but it was no big deal.

Then he told me I’d have to wait twenty minutes while he drove to work to get his cell phone, where he’d left it.

I told him no way was he fussing over my emotional evening and to stay put at home and chat on AIM or let me go to bed.

He signed off with a wink and a “call you in a few.”

I don’t like people fussing over me, except deep down I love it. Anyone else feel this way? 

But he wanted to fuss. Over me. Which hadn’t happened in a while. He wanted me to know that he cared enough about my bad night to drive to work, dig his cell phone out of a couch, and spend some time talking, making time.

I wouldn’t say this is when “I knew,” but he certainly had my attention.

(to be continued, because it takes a while to tell this sort of story)
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, user ciranob

If you want to catch the full story, use this nifty form to have each new post delivered to your inbox.  Not that I think we’re THAT interesting but a good love story melts a snowy day…. yes? 

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner

You can also find me on twitter and Facebook as well. Join the conversation on all fronts! That’s my recommendation…

Day 10: Here is where we hit our knees (again)

Photo on 10-10-13 at 9.35 AM #2

I  went to Christian elementary school
I went to all the bible studies and sunday schools
I was a Calvinette with copious merit badges (reformed girl scout, yes… that’s a thing.)
I graduated from Bible college and followed it up with a bit of seminary.

A lot of time and resources have been invested in my Christian education and spiritual development.

All that being said…. When things get stressful, anxious and hectic: I forget to Pray.  

And then I beat myself up about it, compare my life against that of my scripture posting facebook friends and declare myself a waste of a Christian and a poser of a Pastor’s wife.

(You may be noticing two themes this October 1. I play the comparison a lot.  too much.  2. I’m quite fond of beating the crap out of myself) 

It happened again this morning while I was attempting quiet prayer time while trying drown out “Busytown Mysteries” blaring from the basement.

I started to beat myself up for my lackluster prayer life and general spiritual forgetfulness.

But I forced myself to swallow grace.
Pick up my Bible and start again.

Because we can’t go back and hit our knees yesterday, we cant undo our past worries with today’s prayers, but we can start today with a contrite heart, a reliant spirit.

And for that matter we have to stop beating ourselves up about our spiritual shortcomings, it only drives us further away from the God we so desperately need to rely on.

We have to stop using quiet time as a litmus test and start seeing it as a meal, a feast, a communion with a God who wants in on our minute to minute lives.  

We can pray something that sounds like: Dear Lord, thank you for bushels of grace like apples in fall, shiny and new and abounding. Thank you for seeing me through even when I was far too busy to ask for it.  Forgive me for the arrogance of trying to stand without you, again.  Be in my breaths, redirect all my fears and freak-outs back to you with a silent whisper that only loves and never labels or lessens.

Amen.

Here

I’m writing every day this month about the idea of living “here.”  Head back to this page to access all the posts in one place and please join me in loving where you are, just as you are.

Day 7- Here is where we start

1385707_529051395737_999709425_n

My dear friend Becky and I walked a 5K this weekend,with a wagon, a stroller and three preschoolers in tow.

I have a hard time being proud of this because I know people who have run marathons and iron mans. I didn’t do anything nearly that hard, I just walked for a while and kept the kids on the path (which was no easy task…)

But my 5K is nothing worth celebrating.

Although, wait… I went out and did something challenging on a Saturday morning rather than declining and staying home with a book and coffee.

No. I didn’t run a marathon on Saturday, but I took a step toward that goal, should I choose to pursue it. I put on my first race number and completed a registered 5k from start to finish.

And that’s something, isn’t it?

Instead of measuring our accomplishments by someone else’s and always coming up short, what if I saw this 5k a worthwhile step on the journey?

What we saw our right here as a good place to start, if we viewed ourselves as equipped as we need to be to take the next step on the journey?

What if we didn’t beat ourselves up for deadlines missed and started fresh, right here?

And moreover, what if we celebrated “here” as the middle of many journeys we were intimidated to start and could have given up on?

Because “here” IS a place of middles, completions and beginnings.  It’s culmination of many journeys we could have just as easily passed on.

What if we looked around and didn’t see all that finish lines we haven’t crossed, but looked back at a few pictures of some that we did?  Graduation days, loans paid off, years worth of blog posts faithfully written, children raised with love for life and God and his people….

These are things to take pride in, to celebrate.

What if we grew comfortable with today’s To-do list instead of lamenting at how far away we are from where we “should be?”

Let’s decide to
1) Start here
2) Celebrate what’s behind
3) Stop comparing our finish lines and progress reports?

So let’s go do our todays
with what we have
Starting where we already are.
(insert race gun bang here)

HereI’m spending the month of October writing for 31 Days on the concept of “here.”  Sign up right here to receive these posts in your inbox.

Day 5- Road tripping and Holy Rocks

I used to love going on road trips.  I’d buy great snacks, burn fantastic CDs and print out maps from mapquest.

I’d plan out which unusual roadside oddities we’d see along the way, a giant peach, a Volkswagen turned into a spider, maybe a massive Babe the Blue Ox statue.

Road tripping was a time of deep conversation, adventure and freedom.

I think this likely stopped when we had kids and every moment in the car became something to endure, to survive.

Now road trips find me with bloodshot eyes and Toy Story ringing in my ears while sippy cups roll around what used to be the floorboards, now an inch deep with toys and wrappers.

prekidsroadtrips

Prekids road tripping, guy’s shirt, studded belt and of course Kel’s 87 Lincoln.

I’ve never been a patient person, I’m a person fond of immediate results.  Point A to Point B with no mess in the middle.

But right now we’re both in-between jobs, and we’re in-between houses

We’re very in-between right now.  We’re in a season of waiting for the next thing.

I think the secret to living in and loving “here” is to realize that, as the old cliché says, “Life isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.”

We can’t live always waiting to arrive somewhere else
We have to delve into the in-between because it’s just as steeped in God as the arrival will be, perhaps more so.   Continue reading