Things I Learned in March

One of my favorite bloggers, Emily P. Freeman, encourages others to take time at the end of the month to write about what we learned. Be it silly or spiritual, sweet or just noticing life around me, I love this challenge. So enjoy what I learned this month and please share in the comments something you learned this month—be it silly or deep.

  • I appreciate sunshine more than I realized. After a long winter (and this wasn’t even a bad one) the sunshine and the warmer temps are affecting me more this year. I want to drink them in and be outside more.
  • My eldest child strives to be a classy dude. I knew that one but there were many reminders this month. From his love of wearing bowties and hats to his request that his sisters stop the potty humor so we can have a little class, I’ve seen it this month all over again.
  • When I eat junk, I feel like junk. Again, knew that but had a couple of days where I felt stressed and just didn’t care. Only by the end of the second one I felt tired, heavier (not just on the scale), and slightly sick. Note to self: buy more fruits and veggies…except broccoli. See next item.
  • I still hate broccoli. Seriously. The smell…gag. Ugh. I tried. I really did. Two of my kids love it and two tolerate it. So I will try to cover my nose and prepare it from time to time for their health. But don’t expect me to sample any.
  • Time at Starbucks with workout friends can be calming on a tempestuous day. Talking about nothing and anything over a treat can help recharge my batteries before diving into the necessary. And thanks to warmer weather I’m enjoying a Refresher at 90 calories instead of a macchiato at 290 calories. So there’s that….
  • A no isn’t always the end. Sometimes it is the change in direction you need. Sometimes, after you feel sad about the no, you can find new directions, new paths, and even new ideas. And reading new books to learn new things is exhilarating.
  • Some of the movies I was sure my kids would LOVE from my past have bored them to tears and some have rocked their worlds. Ah well. I’ll keep trying. Some classics are just worth seeing. I mean I haven’t even gotten to the Lethal Weapon series yet and Mullet Mel Gibson is so worth a look.
  • I think I would adore sitting and having coffee with author Kathi Lipp. Just started her book “The Cure for the Perfect Life” and I’m convinced we’d be fast friends.
  • I was reminded, yet again, that I adore the privilege motherhood gives me of being part of these four little humans’ lives. I get to watch my beautiful daughter Kati run track and do things I never could–specifically hurdles and playing the cello (just not while she’s running). I get to see Ryan find joy in the water in Special Olympics Swim Practice and discover gardening. I get to watch the pride in little Lucy’s face as she describes to me her reading progress and how she’s getting better at flips on the monkey bars. I get to help my son Jarod grow in his faith as he dives deeper into the Bible and comes to me with good, sound questions. I get to be part of that! Best. Job. Ever.

So what did you learn in March? Was it a good month for shaking winter picstitchsadness and embracing spring? Are you starting new books? New adventures? If spring hasn’t sprung, hang in there. I saw a beautiful tree outside Starbucks today I hadn’t noticed before. Its branches tickled the sky and tiny buds poised ready to burst forth in green beauty. Ah. I’ll enjoy that today for sure.

When You Need a Moment

I had braced myself for “no.” Or so I thought. I had stepped out in faith and taken a huge leap. I had prayed and prepared and felt God beckoning me beyond what was possible with my own eyes. He had opened doors, I thought. He had given me vision, I thought.

But when the “no” came it was so much bigger than any of the contingencies I had worked out in my mind. My heart was crushed. My soul felt wounded. I wept. I felt the numb of shock. I felt the death of a dream.

Deep down, I wrestled with this feeling. What kind of faith do you have if one little “no” turns you into a weepy mess? You said God was the God of Impossible Things and yet here you lay on your couch crying because the steps outlined to make the “no” a “yes” are completely impossible. Some faith. These words mocked me even as I could not deny the sorrow that swept over me.

And then I realized, I was grieving. Not grief like when my husband died, but grief none-the-less. I was grieving the loss of this dream. Not forever but for right now, this second in time, what I had dreamt of happening would not be happening. I remembered words I had written and shared with others: Grief does not equal doubt. Weeping for what was lost, what was dreamed of, what was anticipated, does not make your trust in His will diminished. It simply means you need a moment to feel sad before you step into whatever He has in mind instead.take a moment

Too often we imply to Christians dealing with sorrow that this feeling is wrong. Too often we say they should rely on the joy of the Lord for their strength and that we should shake off a spirit of heaviness for the joy of gladness. Too often we equate sorrow with faithlessness.

But Jesus wept.

It’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Jesus wept. He knew their sorrow was temporary. He knew he was about to raise Lazarus—dead for many days and already in a tomb—back to life and yet he wept. He shared their sorrow at their deep, real, tangible loss.

I’ve heard it preached he wept because they had no faith. I think that’s bunk. I think the compassionate Son of God wept with them because grief often needs to be experienced before healing can come. I think he took a moment with them to let sorrow do its work. Oh but then he did something amazing.

Sometimes we need a moment to mourn our loss before we can dry the tears, pick ourselves up off the dirt, shake the dust from our garments, and ask God, “Ok, then, what now?” Taking that moment does not lessen who God is or our trust that He is faithful. Taking that moment can mean letting go of our ideas so that we are open to what He has in mind.

Even Paul wrote, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV emphasis mine) We will get knocked down but it does not need to destroy us.

So today if you are mourning a loss—no matter the size—feel it. Don’t get stuck there forever, but let grief do its work so you can shake off the dust and get back up. Let yourself feel sad for a moment in time. Then dry those tears and give the broken pieces of what was hoped for, dreamed of, anticipated, to the God who has something better in mind.

(You’ll notice the graphic has my new website on it. Stay tuned for it’s release date. I’m still working out the design bugs. You, my faithful followers will be the first to know when it goes live.)

Enough

Monday: It’s late. Sleep whispers to me, beckoning me to head to bed, the place I’ve been wishing for most of the day. And yet words rattle around inside my head, keeping me up. Sleep isn’t shouting yet, so perhaps I should put pen to paper and try to make sense of the jumble of the day.

It was a long day, but a good day. I exercised though not as well as the others in boot camp. I kept moving. I keep trying. That’s the important part.

Then off I went to my Bible Study/book club where God keeps beckoning me to places of vulnerability with women I admire. Today we wrestled with wounds on our hearts and how they affect our perceptions of ourselves. Women carry around our wounds. They affect the filter through which we judge ourselves. My group is reading the book, “Captivating” together. It’s a good book. Our group has been together long enough we can share our scars without shame. Today we shared and a thoughtful attitude followed me into the rest of the day.

Today I was blessed, again, by a church family who wants to care for this widow. They sent an exterminator to take care of whatever was clawing inside my walls. Deer mice, it turns out. Common to this area, he said. The fix was easy. The cost would have meant a huge strain for me. And yet again, God’s people cared for us. I am humbled by this.

The day continued with tasks most moms deal with—school pick-ups and errands, dinner prep and homework, listening and snuggling and trying to help kids finish their responsibilities. I helped Lucy make cornbread muffins for dinner—a bright spot in my evening drudgery.

I hid from much on my to-do list today. I know that. I accomplished quite a bit but my house isn’t clean enough nor the laundry finished enough. All the “should haves” mock me as I try to shut my mind off for the night. I reach for Emily Freeman’s book A Million Little Ways and find solace in some of her encouragement to take time to explore wonder. I’m pretty sure catching up on my TiVo is not what she’s suggesting.

Maybe that’s why my mind is racing. I need to create my art tonight, my writing. I need to ignore the things that went undone; things telling me I didn’t do enough today. Telling me I am not enough.

Today I wrestled with deep things. I conquered mice (or at least found a guy to conquer them for me). And I took care of four kids, each needing something different from me. Perhaps today didn’t contain enough time for wonder. And that is OK.

Or maybe I need to realize I experienced wonder today. It was in the pushing past my hatred of exercise to do it anyway and take care of myself. It was in vulnerable conversations with women I care about. It was in helping a six-year-old proudly make corn muffins.

Wednesday: I set aside the morning to write. I have five whole hours until children burst back into my home after school. It’s early release Wednesday. But I remember this blog, started the other night and I take time for a different kind of wonder. I take time to read my Bible and watch the swirling snow fall outside. I marvel at beauty; that God is painting the world in white, a stark contrast to deep green pines and grey mourning doves huddled for warmth outside my window.

Today God is beckoning me to hone my craft, to polish my gifts, and to find words to place on a page. Today he is stilling the voices of doubt that whisper that I am not a big enough blogger, don’t have a big enough following, don’t have what it takes. He is stilling the voices of doubt that tell me I am not enough and reminding me to trust. Just do what he has called me to do and he will care for the rest.

So today I encourage you to silence the voices telling you that you are not enough. You are enough because God created you. You are enough because Jesus loves you. You are enough when you surrender what’s in your hands to the God who creates abundance out of lack, who creates wonder out of the ordinary, who creates new beginnings out of broken endings.

Take time today to embrace the wonder in your universe—whether it’s helping a child learn a new task, enjoying the beauty around you, or embracing the gifts you were given. Today, perhaps, that is enough.