Category Archives: Life Experiences

Don’t Kill the Wonder.

Wonder

I receive these texts every morning with some sort of positive affirmation or healthy advice for the day. Today, the text read, “Unapologetically seek bliss today.” The text link led me to an article called “‘Ikagai’ is Japan’s Secret to Living a Long, Happy Life.” The author writes that ikagai is “the happiness of always being busy, but it doesn’t mean a schedule packed with mindless errands and activities. Rather, the thing that makes you want to get up in the morning, makes you want to work hard, and colors your life with purpose.” She further writes, “When you follow through on things you enjoy and limit the things you don’t, you’re taking steps towards pursuing what’s important to you.” (Anna Meyer)

This came at such a perfect time as my dad and I were discussing yesterday how so many lose their wonder in life. The truth is, we kill it. Or someone else kills it for us. We kill it in our children completely unaware that we are doing it. When we seek after the things that fill us with joy, we inspire that wonder. When we stop, so does the wonder.

We tell our kids things like, “You can’t always get what you want.” We tell them, “Life isn’t always one big party.” I’ve done it. I’m sure you have. I know our hearts behind it aren’t wrong. We think we are teaching them responsibility. And, that lesson is important. We think we are teaching them to be realistic with their wants and goals. Now, THAT lesson isn’t so much. We think if our little ones want too many things, then they aren’t thankful for what they already have. So, we squelch or diminish the importance or value in them wanting something. We kill their wonder.

It’s not that we never use the word “no.” It IS that we become facilitators, teaching them how to create their world. Teaching them that life IS meant to be full of wonder. Teaching them it’s okay to seek happiness. A couple of years ago I read a book by Shefali Tsabary called “Out of Control.” She is also the author of the “The Conscious Parent,” which may be more familiar to you. One chapter was titled, “How to Say ‘Yes’ or ‘No” Effectively.” My conversation with dad prompted me to pull this book back off the shelf. I’m glad I did. I began reading again about how we kill their wonder when we don’t value what they desire. Tsabary writes that we “deliver messages such as, ‘You are being so greedy, you should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t you know that money doesn’t grow on trees? You seem to think we are made of money.’ Shaming our children for their honest desires in this way, we dishonor their feelings. A practical matter has become a personal issue, with the parent feeling frustrated and the child rejected. Our children have every right to want things – this is normal and healthy. It indicates they have a connection to their lives.”

You see our purpose isn’t to run out and buy those things for them. I’m not arguing you can’t. Sometimes, the joy of parenting is saying, “Yes. Let’s go get this.” BUT, the beauty for us as parents is to facilitate their dreams. To teach them to have goals. To help them create ways to work for these things and attain them. To let them know that we are for them and will partner with them. “Our children learn they are active co-creators in their universe, able to actualize their dreams through action. Such children grow up to make good decisions in life.”

I dare say, such children grow up to never lose their wonder for life. Because, we as parents have taught them what it means to truly be created in God’s image – Elohim – creators. Creators are always inspired. And, that inspiration always comes from wonder. So, everyday, they get up and unapologetically seek bliss by actively fulfilling their life’s purpose.

Finally, I would say that this is not selfish. It sounds self-fulfilling. Partially, it is. But, as each one fulfills his or her purpose, the rest of the world benefits. We all gain from each other’s gifts. Am I trying to create a world filled with magic and love and peace and hope and bliss? Am I THAT crazy to think it’s possible? You better believe I am. Now, YOU. Go seek bliss today.

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Filed under Chasing Dreams, Kid Stuff, Life Experiences, making an impact, Motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

The Pause Is Everything.

pause

One of my mentors always reminds me that “hurry up” is not a quality of the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit is actually quite the opposite…..specifically qualities like patience and self-control. I know this. Yet, I forget this often. And, self-control is the key to slowing down.

Self-control is the key to the pause.

And, the pause is everything. I mean EVERYTHING.

The other day I had to pick up some papers that were set outside an office building for me. They were being held up by a large 2×4. In my hastiness, I grabbed the papers and knocked the 2×4 on my foot. Every explicative went through my head, and I left there angry at the 2×4 and the people who thought putting it there was a good idea. The reality is I rushed as I do everything. Not paying attention to my steps or my surroundings. I just acted and reacted without giving it any thought. Without a pause. So, the universe simply responded to my actions. Gravity, like it always does, did its job, and the 2×4 came crashing down on my foot. Had I slowed down and taken notice of the moment, I suspect I could have prevented the entire incident.

The spirit has also been speaking to me about the power of the pause in how I take care of my body. I grab a snack bar for breakfast, albeit “gluten free”, because I don’t want to pause an entire 5 minutes to fry an egg. When the egg offers me much more good for my body…..and in those five minutes of pausing, my thoughts slow down. In those 5 minutes, I notice my thoughts aren’t just on the egg itself. But, my thoughts quiet for a moment to hear what my Spirit is saying. To listen. To be still. In those 5 minutes, my entire being benefits: body, soul, and spirit. That’s the power of the pause. Again, I say, the pause is everything.

Abandoning the pause can affect everything in our lives. And, often times, we don’t acknowledge our condition as a failure to pause. When in reality, our condition is often the effect of our haste. We make a bad decision, because we do not pause. We respond with anger or hurtful words, because we do not pause. We hurt ourselves, because we do not pause. We hurt others, because we do not pause.

We miss moments with our children, because we do not pause. We fail to see the goodness in our partner’s eyes, because we do not pause. We miss God in the moment when we are with other people when we do not pause.

But, when we DO pause. We just don’t save ourselves and others from our hasty reactions…..but, we absorb life itself in all of its goodness. We see God in all things and in all people. We walk like barefoot priests careful of where we step, careful of the direction we take, tender with the words we speak. We pause, and we ABSORB LIFE. We absorb His presence, because, His presence is in the pause. We hear Him speak, and we make better choices. We zoom out, and don’t just see the one tree, but we see the entire forest. Instead of looking at one date on my calendar I see an entire week, month, year, life.

The pause makes us thankful, because it becomes impossible to not think of something good when we slow down. That gratitude moves us and motivates us to lead our day with eyes that see and ears that ear what we need to see and hear. The more we pause, the more grateful we become. The more grateful we become, the more good things we see and attract to our lives….simply because we are expanding in our thankfulness for life.

But, it cannot happen without the pause.

I have a cousin named Mark. He is, no doubt, one of the greatest beings walking this planet. He is never in a hurry yet nothing in his world is ever left undone. Easter Sunday, he lingered after church and talked to me for a long time. I had a brief thought of surely he has to get to his family lunch….surely, I have to get to my family lunch. But, I abandoned that thought immediately and paused. There have been moments I have thought Mark paused, because HE needed that pause. The truth is, I needed it. In the moments I have thought I was giving to him, he is the one who has been giving to me. That’s the power of the pause. It’s not just for ourselves.

Pause. Observe. Absorb. You will see more clearly. You will make better decisions. Others won’t taste your haste in word or action. 2x4s won’t make you want to shout explicatives. Practice it. Write it on your hand until it’s written on your heart. Just slow down in every single way possible.

The pause everything.

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Filed under gratitude, life, Life Experiences, Relationships, Spiritual Journey, Uncategorized

Make Space For the Season.

blog-space

The other day, I sat in mom and dad’s living room and began recalling my childhood Christmases. The subject came up when I told Anna about the time each of my parents thought the other was buying my presents. We call it “the Christmas my parents forgot me.” Their only child. Just one. Me. It’s actually one of my dad’s favorite Christmas stories to tell. Well, besides the one when dad asked me when I was a little girl to tell him if the lights on the tree were working. “Now they are. Now they aren’t. Now they are. Now they aren’t.” I didn’t realize they were blinking lights. My mom, however, hates the story of forgetting me. She was a flight attendant then, and her schedule was crazy. But, dad and I have laughed about that Christmas so many times. I was older, and I got it. I wasn’t hurt or disappointed. But, I laughed. (And, I caught my dad later that day writing a check to stick inside my stocking.) I wasn’t disappointed, because everything I ever could have needed or wanted from my parents I received. I’m not talking about the things. I’m talking about the relationships. The love. The real stuff that doesn’t get old or break or fade.

After I told Anna that story, I began remembering all of my Christmases when I was a little girl. I remembered the Christmas morning I got Dolly Pops. I had wanted those for a solid year. I remember the Christmas where Ken and Barbie were sitting on their Barbie horses, and another Barbie was taking a dip in her pool that mom filled with water. I remembered the Christmas I opened up a my burgundy velvet blazer and navy blue tie. I guess I was channelling my inner Diane Keaton that year. I began to tell my parents and my own children that while I knew my Christmases weren’t “big” by most standards, they always felt big. Dad was pastoring a small church on a very modest income. They couldn’t do the big. But, I told them, “It always felt big. They were the best Christmases.”

I watched tears stream down my mom’s face. Did she not know that they always felt big and were so perfect to me? Did she not know that I never felt slighted growing up but, instead, only loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the smiles, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the blinking lights?

Last night, I sat in my own living room with my two oldest children who are hardly children anymore. John Henry looks at me and says, “Mom, can you give my big presents to another kid this year or is that not an option?” Later Anna says, “Mom, last Christmas was great. Don’t get me wrong. Everyone loves presents. But, I don’t want so many gifts taking up our time together.” Then, in her hilarious Donald Trump voice she said, “I’m going to build a wall around the tree and gifts.” (Seriously, her Trump impression rivals only that of Alec Baldwin.)

“I want to make space between the gifts and this,” she said, stretching her arms toward John Henry and me. “There is nothing I need. I just want this.”

Did I not know that my kids simply loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the lights that do not blink? Not the things that get old or break or fade. The relationships. The love. The real stuff.

In all of your hectic shopping, your worry over if you have bought enough, done enough, given enough….Pause, stop, breathe. Your kids will have more than they need or want because of YOU. Because, you laugh in the kitchen together while making Chex-mix. Because, you put away your phones and look them in the eyes and listen to them. Because, you take a break from homework and laundry and cry together watching This Is Us. (Have mercy, that show is everything right now.) Because, they watch you say something encouraging to their dad. Because, they watch their dad bring their mom coffee. Because, they see stockings for John Henry’s dad and step-mom hung at my parents’ house. Because, they see what love looks like. How it walks, how it talks, how it moves, how it pauses, how it gives.

Make space between the gifts and this. Fill that space with everything you are. Fill that space absorbing everything your children are. That’s what a big Christmas looks like. Make space for the season. Make space for the real stuff that doesn’t break. But for the stuff that gets you through your hardest seasons. The stuff that assures you that God is always for you and will not fail you. The stuff that reminds you to always make space for forgiveness, for gratitude, and for loving well. The stuff that reminds you that YOU ARE ENOUGH and you are amazing and you are INSANELY loved. Make space for that stuff. Nothing else matters. It’s all about your relationships. I can assure you of that.

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Filed under gratitude, Kid Stuff, Life Experiences, Love, Motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

The Process of Forgiveness.

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time. Every time I would go to write it, I would stop. It seemed too difficult to tell the story well. To tell the story of forgiveness. I hope I serve the art of forgiving well as I share my heart today.

I believe the process of forgiveness looks different according to each situation. Many times it’s easy. It’s easy to forgive your children for forgetting to clean their room. It’s easy to forgive your spouse when he doesn’t meet an expectation. It’s easy, or it should be easy, to forgive a friend when they disappoint you. Why? Because, we are making allowances for each other’s faults. So, immediate forgiveness makes sense. The process is hardly a process at all.

But deep hurts of betrayal or of life-changing wrong-doing require a process of forgiveness. I don’t know that I truly understood this until last year when my family was forced to walk through it. Even the process of forgiving John Henry’s dad was easier. As crazy as it sounds, that hurt was not a hurt that was meant to deliberately hurt me or him. While it affected us, it wasn’t about us. It was about him. I know this is a hard pill for some to swallow who have experienced their spouse leaving them. But, because of the love I had for both of them and the awareness that it wasn’t about me, walking in forgiveness was an easy process. It didn’t make the hurt any less. I still had to live with the decision. But, it did make releasing any anger and resentment possible and quick. Am I making sense? See the difference? The hurt stayed a while, but the resentment did not.

Last year, I experienced a different kind of hurt. The kind that affects your entire family. The kind where intentions just don’t seem right. The kind where you have no emotional ties to the instigators, so there seems to be no reason to “let them off the hook.” I was hurt. I felt violated, betrayed, angry, resentful. Where was the justice, the fairness, the accountability? Every feeling was necessary for me to feel. The hard part in it all was trying not to lose who I was in it. Trying not to forget who HE was in me. Who HE is in each of us. I wanted to forgive. I would pray and release them, but I would find myself meeting that anger again whenever I allowed my mind to go there. Forgiveness was going to be hard. I was initially hard on myself, because, I felt like I knew better. I knew it was necessary. But, I never understood the process of this kind of hurt until I had to walk through it.

So, I learned that sometimes forgiveness is a journey. But, it has to be an intentional journey. It has to be so intentional that you set out every day with the goal of releasing it. You set your heart on the mission of letting them off the hook. It did not happen with a prayer. It didn’t happen with a single decision. It happened with multiple decisions. It happened with the realization that sometimes forgiveness is a process. It’s a decision you have to make over and over and over. Every single day. Until the hurt is gone.

It’s deliberate. It’s a daily choice. And, it’s a process.

Eventually, I framed my world to release the hurt and forgiveness so many times that it finally happened. I was free. And, so were the ones who hurt me.

Don’t stay in deep-rooted hurt. Don’t accept that your hurt will always be there. Take the journey. Go through the process. Keep making the choice to forgive over and over until that hurt no longer carries any weight.

Besides learning that sometimes forgiveness is a process, I also learned how little other hurts really are. I learned, that at the end of the day, it should be so easy to allow those we love to fail us. To let go of little things like someone not meeting your expectations. It became so easy to always fill in the gap of my expectations and disappointments with love and forgiveness. Everything else became so small. The people in my life became so big….as did my love for them. The decisions we made after our big hurt made our lives richer. Better. Nothing went to waste, and God has used it ALL for our good.

All of it.

If you’re holding onto hurt, choose to go through the process of forgiveness. Allow God to work even that for your good. He loves you, and His ways are so, so good. So worth it. YOU are worth it.

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, Life Experiences, Relationships, Spiritual Journey

Create Your Calm.

Jett blankie

Jett loves his little, blue blankie. If you’ve seen Jett, you’ve probably seen his blankie. We are working hard on getting Jett to leave his blankie on his bed every morning. And, by “WE” are working hard, I mean Kris. It makes mornings harder, because, blankie…..you know.

Last night as I was putting Jett to bed and praying over him, I added, “Thank You for a smooth morning. Thank You that Jett is patient and cooperative and full of understanding. Amen.”

This morning Jett woke up happy and cooperative and saying, “yes ma’am” to leaving blankie on his bed. Inside, I was thanking sweet Jesus for such a smooth morning and fist bumping Him in my heart. ‘Cause, we got this.

Then, my sweet, cooperative boy spilled my entire cup of coffee all over the coffee table. All over my phone, my iPad, my favorite books, his Legos, and whatever else was in that line of fire. Jett awaited for scary mom to come out. John Henry left the room to get paper towels and not hear scary mom.

And, I paused. I remembered my prayer of a smooth morning. And, I just said, “It’s okay, bud.”

While, we cannot control every part of our day and avoid trouble, we do get choose our response to the bumps and how they control us. And, instead of it ruining our morning, I was able to be a model of peace and self-control and forgiveness to my children. I do not tout this inner fortitude to do this all of the time. I have failed so many times and went scary mom on my children more times than I care to recall. And, self-appointed Holy Spirit in my life, Anna Takle, is always quick to remind me of how I should’ve responded. Bless her. But, today, I made a decision to create my calm. To CHOOSE a smooth morning.

We can pray for things, and that’s okay. We can thank God for things, and that is necessary. But, in as much as I thanked Him for a smooth morning, it was up to me to create it.

You create your calm. You create your peace. You create your smooth. It’s not the hard moments that wreck us or our day. It’s our response to them.

Instead of coming home from dropping the kids off stressed, I came home noticing a beautiful sunrise. I came home pouring out tears of gratitude for this beautiful day. Creating my calm made thanksgiving so easy.

Make the decision to choose your responses today. Create your calm, and let thanksgiving pour out.

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His Goodness Pursues You.

You know those times you look at your house and know you need to organize so many things in it but don’t really know where to begin? That’s how I have felt about writing to you all. So many things, so many thoughts, so many messages of heartache, brokenness, and disappointment. But, so many messages of His goodness, hope, and His faithfulness. All of these themes shuffling around in my head and not really knowing where to begin. And, just like that house that needs us to get up and do something, I need to begin writing…something.

So, today, I begin with His goodness.

The past few months have been a whirlwind for our family. Without sharing intimate details, we have experienced things we never imagined we would go through. Emotions of disappointment and anger. Feelings of injustice. Moments of falling to my knees with hurt and knowing in my heart that forgiveness can be hard but necessary. But, through disappointment, He is still good. He is faithful. And, nothing, NOTHING goes to waste. No hurt goes to waste. No difficult season goes to waste. Nothing.

And, disappointment and hurt do not pursue me.

His goodness and unfailing love do. They chase after me wherever I go. They make themselves known in the darkest of times and the brightest of times. They lift up my chin and remind me that He is working all things for my good. ALL things. Not some. Not a few. ALL things. They give rest to my weary head. They comfort me. They say, “Hey, kid. We’ve never stopped following you. And, you know what? The same God that has proved Himself time and time again won’t fail you now.” They remind me that it’s not the storms that get us, but it’s our response to the storms.

It’s opening our eyes in the middle of the chaos and seeing His goodness all around you. What was meant for harm has been for our good.

I’ve seen John Henry handle himself with the greatest of dignity, the greatest of strength, and become a man who truly knows he is who GOD says he is.

I’ve watched Anna thrive in the midst of a hard season and learn to articulate her feelings in such a way, I swear I’m talking to 40 year old woman. While she feels deeply, she also feels His spirit within her so much, and it AMAZES me.

I’ve watched Jett consistently remind me to breathe. To laugh, to pause, and soak in the eternal things.

I’ve watched Kris care for our family in such a way that I have fallen in love with him all over again. I’ve watched him parent our children with the tenderest care, with the strongest protection, and with the greatest wisdom. I told him, “I’m not saying I couldn’t parent without you. But, I sure wouldn’t want to.”

Today, I stand on the other side of our hard season with a renewed sense of His goodness. With a renewed passion that He is faithful to turn messes into messages. He is faithful to make good come out of the hard. Because, He pursues me, I do not live in a house of unrest, a house of chaos, a house of disappointment. I live in His house. And, He dwells within me.

He is faithful. Remember that. Remember that hard times are not pursuing you. His goodness and love are. And, nothing can stop them from chasing you. He is good. He is good. He is good. And, His love will not fail you.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, life, Life Experiences, parenting, Writing

Life Is Amazing.

Tonight, I dreaded the idea of going out in this painfully cold weather to check on a well and water troughs for cows. Dreaded. As in, how in the world am I living in a world where I check a well in 27 degree temps? Seriously.

But, I did. And, you know what I saw? Besides my breath in front of me? Stars. Amazing, beautiful stars that could not be numbered in a huge, amazing, beautiful sky. And, for a brief moment, I looked up and stared and thought, “Amazing.”

Sunday, I dreaded the thought of Jett becoming sick. Fever, congestion, loss of appetite. You know the stuff those little people get. I dreaded it changing up my Monday. Then, changing up my Tuesday. It did change it up. And, you know what I saw? Besides spilled Tylenol on my living room chair? A little boy who is growing up and changing so fast. Who has turned into the sweetest boy in the entire universe. Who made me laugh out loud so many times that, for a moment, I considered pulling him out of school and keeping him with me all the live long day forevermore….for a moment. And, then I put him to bed tonight and thought, “Amazing.”

Life is always amazing. Full of wonder. Full of crazy gorgeous evening skies and full of moments where your child sits closer to you. It’s always there. And, many times, those amazing moments are noticed in our life’s interruptions.

These past couple of days have reminded me: Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

They don’t just change to become more tolerable. They change to become your greatest blessings.

It’s when life becomes amazing.

Tonight, I go to bed amazed.

Thankful.

In love with life.

In love with the people in my life.

And, in love with the One who created it all and said, “It is good.”

 

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