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Tag: Finding contentment



Last week, I was on vacation with my family. We were visiting family and lifelong friends, staying near the beach, and celebrating an anniversary. It was a refreshing and beautiful time. But while we were out of town, we missed some events that happened at home. Events that all my very best friends are still talking about.

I know we can’t be everywhere all the time. Sometimes we miss out on things because of prior commitments. Yet, since I’ve been home I’ve been hit with the weight of everything I missed here.

Though our vacation was purposeful and plentiful, I feel separated, weary, incomplete.

While these feelings stomp on my heart and make me simultaneously wish that I was still away and that I had never left home, what I’m remembering is that these are only feelings. I admit that feelings have purpose, but I don’t believe we are to live in our feelings. Feelings allow us to have empathy for others, but too often we call our feelings fact and use them as an excuse for selfishness.

Feelings are not facts, and my particular feelings are brought on by lies.

These feelings are trash.

But how do we rid ourselves of trash-lies when they have gripped us and plagued us and seemingly made their homes on top of our chest, so that every time we breathe we only get enough air to sustain our life?

It is not good enough to just sustain life.

I recently heard a woman speak whose life has been transformed by a stroke. She is learning to live a new kind of life and is joyfully doing so, but one thing she said is, “Well, I’m alive.” Those words struck me deep because I say them too, but I say them differently. As in, “Well, life sucks right now, but at least I’m alive.”

Truth is that, though life can be wonderful, it also often brings troubles. As in, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome this world!” (from John 16, msg). Since God gives good things and only moves in His purpose, we have to know that life is good. God overcame the world of darkness so that we can walk in His light.

Yet I still feel terrible when my children are disobedient. I still feel lonely when I watch others have grand excursions and I’m stuck in my apartment with three children who just won’t quit. I still feel the pangs of heartache when I am not included, for whatever reason. I still reel when I take a step back and realize that I have acted in rash.

My life has been transformed by children, similar to how that other woman’s life has been transformed by a stroke. Children are blessings, but they are mysteries, too. They are problems. They are troubles, at least for me. I know there are some moms out there who always know what to do, but I can barely figure out breakfast, let alone how to home school and discipline in love.

Then, there’s Jesus, just hanging around my apartment, sitting at the table and watching my family wander around in this world of troubles. And he’s saying “Take heart! I’ve overcome this.”

Very gently, He’s reminding us that He is the gate to fullness:

“Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~John 10:7-10


I have heard the voices that say I’m not good enough. Have you? Have you heard the voices that say you’ve missed it, that your dreams are silly and unreachable?

Jesus says these are the voices of thieves and robbers. This is trash trying to clog up our lives of fullness. Throw it away. Right now. Because what else should we do with trash but throw it in the dumpster so it can rot away?

God doesn’t speak in lies. He doesn’t speak in heartache. God speaks in love. He speaks in mercy. He wipes every tear.

No matter where we are or who we’re with (or not with), can we recognize the lies that seek to destroy, before they actually do? Can we see the gate to fullness, and enter it, instead of standing outside and just watching everyone else have fun?



How the Small Things Help out the Big Things

How the Small Things Help out the Big Things

My husband purchased this website domain for me for Mother’s Day. Pretty sweet, right? He knows me. He didn’t come up with the name. I had been running a wordpress-hosted poetry blog by the same name for a few years. Then it seemed it was time to move on to bigger things. Like full-length posts.

While I navigate this blogging thing, I’m also writing a novel. And although I’ve written lots of short stories with fleshed out characters who do important and beautiful things with their lives and reveal meaning to ours, this novel thing is hard work. I know the beginning and the end, but I am having a hard time with the middle (the details) of it. How will my characters get from the muddy, messy place they are in right now to where the novel ends in all its majestic conclusion?

The answer is the same as it’s always been because the question is also the same question that’s been asked for centuries. How does anything ever happen? One word at a time. One scene at a time. One step at a time.

Every time I put my pen to my notebook, my characters live and breathe. I need to remember that this is how they move forward. It’s how they learn. It’s the only way they will get to the last page.

I think some of my problem is that I see the end and it’s so beautiful. Right now, though, my characters are stuck in a world of daily life, of working and struggling with tiny things that they are allowing to become big things. Here in the real world, I am doing the same thing.

I have a daily life where I live and breathe, where I walk, where I do dishes and clean up spills, where I sit on the sidewalk with my kids and collect rocks from the gravel parking lot, carrying them in buckets. On their own, these scenes are nothing. But when you place them all in sequence, they make life.

My kids are so happy with the details of life. They LOVE picking up rocks and carrying them in buckets. But I get caught up in the ending. “Yes, rocks are great, but don’t you see that this parking lot will be paved and it won’t flood anymore when it rains?” But my kids also love the rain, and the giant muddy puddles it leaves behind.

While I don’t know my entire future, I know a few things. There are a few things we can all be certain about. Yet if we focus too much on the future, we won’t ever get there. If I keep wanting to just get my characters to their last scene, there will be no meaning to it. The future is always made from tiny, daily, walking, breathing, rock-collecting, mud-stomping details where our feet get dirty and it seems all we have are useless pieces of ground.

But the ground is not useless. It is necessary. Without it, our feet would never go anywhere.

But the ground is not useless. It is necessary. Without it, our feet would never go anywhere.

While I work on the rocky, muddy details of this novel, while I parent my children who never seem to learn, I am also writing blogs right here. These blogs are like exercise. They are like tiny rays of sunshine. They are like the moments I spend collecting rocks with toddlers who will one day make me a grandma. I can’t finish a novel in one day, but I can finish a blog post.

Life is like the gravel outside my window, which is pretty useless when picked apart and scattered. Together, lots of rocks make ground. Like together, each of my moments make days, make years, make a life.


Why You Will Not Find Tutorials Here

Why You Will Not Find Tutorials Here

I know that how-to blogs are really popular. We love to be told what to do. We especially love instruction when we are moms and homemakers, when we are women who home school and cook every day. We want to know the best way to do laundry and how to clean our oven in 30 seconds. We want to know how to keep our children from screaming and how to pamper ourselves while also being the best mom ever.

We want to have everything: the pretty red washing machine and the energy-saving clothes line out back, where it never rains and bugs don’t crawl. We want to know how to make the best chocolate chip cookies, but also how to keep our bellies from rolling over our jeans.

So when my husband gave me a website for Mother’s Day this year, I was excited. Then I was really nervous. I thought, I can’t have a blog. I don’t know how to do anything, and as for the things I do know, there is no constant.

It’s true. I don’t separate my laundry. Instead, I mostly just shove pieces of dirty cloth into the machine until it’s full. Then I pour in a cap full of soap, and push the ON button. I only clean our oven when it starts smoking up the kitchen. My children aggravate each other and they aggravate me, and though we share a lot of amazing moments, they are almost always unplanned, a result of something I didn’t do and can’t recreate. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t blow dry my hair. My idea of getting pampered is doing anything alone, and that’s not a plea for martyrdom. It’s really the truth. All I need in order to feel refreshed is a good few minutes with myself, where everything is quiet and I can process the world that is spinning and leaping and shouting around me. Every cookie I bake is different from the ones before it because I love to try new things, even if they aren’t as good as the last ones, and though I try to exercise a few times a week, I often end up just doing some combination of push ups/squats/jumping jacks/high knees while my children try to crawl under my legs exclaiming, “Mom’s a tunnel!”

The bottom line is that I’m only sometimes a tunnel. Other times, I look more like a crazy person, my double jointed elbows flailing around in the air, seemingly free from my shoulders, and sometimes my children get kicked in the head. I don’t have the answers.

Instead of trying to figure out how I could maintain a blog, I sat around for days wondering about it. Well, I have three children, so actually I barely sat at all, but that sentence is metaphorical. You know I love metaphors, right? I have been waiting for an idea, for a spark of lightening, for a muse, for a vision, for a mission statement of some kind that speaks of my life, and explains what I can offer.

Here it is: This is not a how-to blog. You will not find tutorials, and you will not find advice.

You want to know why not, right? Of course you do. If I’m not going to tell you how to do things, you at least want me to tell you why I’m not going to write tutorials.

Well, it’s not them, it’s me. And that’s the actual truth. It’s because I am not a directional person. I mean this in all senses: I get lost all the time, even when I have been to a place before, and though I admit that it would be nice to always be on the right road (and thus avoid almost all the marital arguments that ensue around my home), creativity begs for a journey. Since I know that I am a creative person, I have to be okay with the journey, and more than that, I have to enjoy the journey. I have to love the journey. I have to find joy and contentment while I am lost among orange cones and detour signs. Though there are a lot of people out there who hate being the passenger in my minivan, I simply cannot allow myself to always be focused on the quickest way to get from my home to whichever grocery store I decide to shop at that day.

My hope is that my journey speaks to you, and encourages you. My hope is that you find joy and rest and mercy as I reveal pieces of my journey here. You have to know that my journey, though it may sound beautiful and humorous, is a mess just like yours. Any beauty or humor found here is only a result of time. And time, though not all-powerful, does often allow healing and provide perspective for circumstances which may have once been really difficult.

Now, I invite you to join me, here, in this place, where the laundry is clean but not best, and where the cookies surprise and the bread is fresh, where I look for rest but only find it when I stop and realize that I can’t create it. Rest, it seems, is always here, if we invite it.