Photo from Flickr, by Ian Britton
In December, a friend of mine mentioned in passing that she was taking a swim class this spring. That comment kept poking and nudging my heart. I swiftly discounted it as being not feasible for me, for many reasons. Yet when I mentioned it to my husband, he encouraged me to go for it!
I thought it was too expensive for us, that it’d be too tricky to figure out what to do with our sons, that it’d encumber his schedule, that I’m out of shape, that it’s been at least a decade since I’ve been on a team or swam regularly, that I’m not “advanced”, and on and on went my reasons that I couldn’t/shouldn’t take the class. He knocked down all of my objections, and he kept encouraging me to take the class.
And in January, on the very first day of class, this was the only thought that kept pounding through my heart, mind, and soul as I swam: “Thank. You. Thank You. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” For how he loves me. For how he encourages me. For how he supports me. For the gift of BEING in the water. For the ways God loves me, blesses me, nourishes my soul, and works through my husband and others. For time alone. Time to think. Time to work out. Time to use my body and muscles well. Time to swim. Time to meditate. And this beautiful space to simply BE. What a tremendous gift. I chuckle, remembering there was a time in my life when I felt more alive IN the water than out of it. I don’t think that still applies, though I do still love to swim.
I have been swimming twice a week since January. I continue to feel deeply thankful for this gift, and I am loving working out, using my body well, BEING in the water, and swimming.
Our days are full, and they are beautiful. I think there is balance, with white space on our calendar as well as full days. The days and weeks fly by, and I can barely believe it is already March. My days are spent with loving my husband and being loved by him, caring for our sons, teaching them (and strivng to do it well), reading together, caring for our friends’ toddler several days a week, swimming, eating well, nourishing our bodies, living well within the restraints of our days, being good stewards of our resources, and feeling quite blessed when we have the opportunity to spend time with dear friends and nurture these relationships. My desire each day is to love the Lord and others well.
Of course there is struggle and challenges… getting enough sleep, making wise choices in our days, battling allergies and colds, not being able to play with beloved friends as often as we’d like, realizing we’re not where I’d hoped we would be in several of our school subjects, feeling tired of certain food limitations, etc. And YET, God is GOOD. I think our days have a mixture of hard and beautiful. There is a beautiful thread of grace and God’s love that weaves through our days. Often the difference is where I am focusing my eyes and my heart. As I lean in and trust the Lord, when I pause and write down His many gifts, when I spend time with Him, my hope is renewed, I am covered in peace, and I sense His presence and love.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am humbled and thankful how God provides precisely what we need when we need it. Just enough food for one more meal for our dog (the store was closed last night: thankfully he had enough for dinner and this morning’s breakfast), a delicious meatloaf with ingredients my body has been craving, forty five minutes of sweet and precious conversation over dinner with my sister, a heart nourishing afternoon spent with a dearly beloved friend and her children, details falling in to place for an upcoming trip with our beloved family and treasured old friends, groceries, time in the water to swim and meditate, playing at the park for twenty five minutes with my sons, small answered prayers, God’s strength and compassion flowing through me (while I’m drained and worn out) as I gently respond and guide our precious sons through bedtime routines, dinner together, sweet conversations between the four of us, and so much more.
These feel like stepping stones and manna, as day by day, breath by breath, step by step, I see that God is present, active, intimately involved in the details of my day, and He is taking care of us. I don’t need to fear the future or fret over what it may hold, that is almost irrelevant. Today, right now I need to pause and pray. Today, I need to focus on what is before me, and work hard to do what I need to do. Placing my day in God’s hands. Praying for His protection and blessing over my day. Asking that He makes all of it count, for Him. Asking for His presence, strength, love, peace, gentleness, and joy to flow through me. Seeking to walk in His ways, step by step with Him. Giving thanks, noticing Him and His gifts, praying continually. Loving Him, loving others. That’s it. And that is enough.
(Ahem, feeling a little sheepish some of you email subscribers received so many posts/emails from me today.) I finally hit publish on some drafts that’ve been hanging out for far too long on my blog.
What’s the one thing you can’t not do?
I am compelled to write, and share my heart. I deeply love others, and long to encourage, support, uplift, and connect precious women/friends with one another.
I feel nervous and vulnerable sharing my heart, and a bit exposed; and yet it feels like that one thing I can’t not do. Often I fight this, and I don’t write. Or I write but keep a blog post a draft, for far too long. I wrestle with what to share, how much to say, from which angle to write; the superfluous details, or the heart issues underneath the differentiating facts that get at what it means to be Human and are aspects of Life many of us struggle with. Our lives are different, yet our Lives are far more similar: we wrestle with different challenges and obstacles, and we celebrate with different joys and gifts.
And so, I’m stepping out on a limb, writing down what is on my heart, and sharing it with you.
And now, time to put this screen away, as I have two precious lads I need to fully BE with today.
For you, what’s the one thing you can’t not do?
Ten minutes: go! There’s much I’ve been pondering, and much I want to remember. So, I’m striving to pause and write down some of my thoughts.
– I am so deeply thankful for pausing, noticing, and connecting with my boys!!!! It is profound the difference it is making for us.
– Seb has really been opening up: talking so so so much, giving me hugs, kisses, and so much affection, and really responding to what I say and do. I’m striving to honor him and respond well, so he knows he can continue to open and share.
– silly boys were struggling, bickering over the duplos. From the kitchen, I told them go get more, then I stood over them and told them to listen to each other and figure it out; then exasperated I bent down and started silently picking up the blocks and clicking them together (intending to put them away), lime green gloves on, still dripping soapy water. Seb merrily exclaimed, “Look what Mama’s building!” Simon asked to add a block. Simon still grumbled and seemed out of sorts, but then he calmed and added a block, too. I quietly kept building. Both were pleased with how my structure looked. And then, I quietly walked away, back to the kitchen and dishes and dinner prep. Seb exclaimed, “I’m the racer, Simon is the builder!” and they delegated out their work, each working hard and contributing to what the other was doing. I was amazed: they needed me to connect with them. And I did. And once I peacefully held the space and bridged their struggle, they worked together, they kept playing, and they enjoyed being together while I finished getting dinner ready.
– I am meditating on “good enough”. I’ve struggled for years with longing to do everything “right” or “perfectly”, and it is so freeing to simply be striving for “good enough”. Doing something good enough, being good enough: it’s applying to everything these days.
– we decorated our Christmas tree today. It’s a beautiful glorious mess, fully showcasing the realness of our life right now. Half of the ornaments are shimmering golden balls, and the other half are constructed by a three, four, or five year old: resplendent in construction paper, googly eyes, yarn, foam figures, glitter, finger paint; being paper chains, toilet paper crowns, tissue paper “stained glass” images of candles, and clothes-pinned dolls of scrap cloth and hair made of yarn.
– assimilate. I’ve been learning and growing in many ways, it’s time to pause, ruminate, and take in these changes. I’m working on this.
– I am discovering I love baths!! I never thought I had time to take a bath nor did I enjoy them, but oh how relaxing they are! I’m relishing that I am learning to slow down, pause, and breathe. And even say no to things.
– my phone fell into the sink when I was doing dishes. Sebastien sweetly comforted me, “it’s okay, it’s just a phone, and we’ve got each other.” Indeed precious son, we do. And that is enough. And I keep being struck by how these phones/computers/screens can suck us/me in, and ohhhh what I miss, and how beautiful Life is when I put them down and embrace what is in front of me. I was reading a picture book by Shirley Hughes, and on one page, children were at a park. The children were playing. Adults were talking with one another, walking, playing with the children, and swinging them on the swings. Not a single adult was looking at a screen. What a change that is. So yes, I am marveling and striving to use it less. And yet, I am also striving to give myself and others grace, for far better for me to take my kids to a park and check out for a moment on my phone, than simply let their energy build inside and be checked out at home. Balance. Balance. And good enough. Saying no to guilt, and yes to grace.
– I’m striving to multi-task less.
– and I’m striving to follow through with what my boys ask of me, either when they ask me or once I finish what I’m doing, rather than forgetting or simply moving on. So yes, I will come to you, I will listen, I will read, I want to see what you’ve made and what you’re doing.
– I loved our spontaneous trip up the mountain to snowshoe together. It was lovely, just me and my boys and our dog. With a broken phone so no pictures to document the day. Simply being present with them.
Ten minutes to write, and on my phone, too!
I am deeply thankful for yesterday. Not quite a traditional thanksgiving; yet by noticing and appreciating precisely what IS, I am richly blessed and filled with gratitude.
Stopping to listen as each lad needed me, and we did some emotional scrubbing. Listening as the tears and anger flowed, so healing for all of us. Making a delicious lunch for Stan and both boys: turkey, cheese, avocado, and spinach sandwiches, carrots and sugar snap peas and hummus, and on thanksgiving paper plates, a cheerful silly paper tablecloth, and a beautiful flower bouquet. More listening more tears, more love. Piling in a heap on our bed together, peacefully and happily flipping through a catalogue together: all four of us. A yummy snack of egg and bacon burritos, with mango juice. More chicken soup for me. Healing my body. The gaps diet helping. Saying yes to hand in hand, and parenting by connection. It helps all of us, far more than anything else I’ve tried. Reading with Seb and Simon. Counting together: practicing by twos, fives, and tens (tens are easy, they say!!). Boys being so proud they’re “so good at math”. Seb reading so much. Being together. Going for a short walk in the crisp night air, crunching on snow, and seeing the stars together. So, so, so much I am deeply thankful for: it simply takes me shifting my focus and choosing what I focus my heart and eyes on.