4 January/Styczeń. Circling, deepening, reflecting, growing. Though I face some of these struggles that I’ve wrestled with for years, it is my hope and my prayer that I am growing, changing, and maturing. I appreciate the image of growth, that it isn’t a linear or straight line; but instead a spiral, around and around again, climbing or deepening into greater truth as we wrestle and face some of these well trodden paths with familiar obstacles.
Brene Brown said, “You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” and “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we are all in this together.” Isn’t there such freedom and relief with this? Showing up, as we are, it is enough. I struggle with myself and with my feelings…this time I will change, I will do better, I will triumph over this struggle. And then here I am, facing the same things again.and again.and again. I ponder, the weakness and flip side of strength. Are my imperfections to be overcome? Which ones am I to embrace and accept, and which ones to change? Berating myself hasn’t helped me. Moving forward, with kindness. Can I be a gentle loving mother, who is kind when she is angry? Can I restrain my sharp tongue and my criticisms? Can I accept and believe, I.am.enough. You are enough. My husband and sons are enough, precisely as they are. Can I set realistic expectations for my heart, my mind, my days, my time, and live well within the constraints of each day? It is so simple, and yet impossible on our own: love You, love others. Live a holy life, love one another. Follow You. One step, one moment, one breath at a time.
- This morning I went for a run. It was 0c, and the paths were blanketed in thick crunchy white snow. Quiet, peaceful, and good. I slipped and fell when I began, but it was a gentle tumble, and there was something nice to begin with a fall. Yup…time to get up and get after it. One step at a time.
- I ran almost 7km, though I pushed myself a little bit too much as my knee was hurting at the end…it’s been several weeks since I’ve ran, time to build up my strength and endurance again. I’m thankful the smog wasn’t bad, I’m well, and that I could run today.
- I stopped by the farmer’s market on my way home, and I had just enough złoty/money to pick up some olive oil, three carrots, two parsley, some chicken, and some salami. It is so nice, to purchase just a little bit at a time.
- Though I lost (another) earring this morning, I am thankful my pair is now one from my mother and one from my beloved. Something sweet, about having two mismatched pearls from the ones I love.
- We began this morning well! Waking early, quietly doing yoga and stretching. I read just a little in my bible, and I was thankful to contemplate a verse from 1 John: living a holy life, loving one another. It is as simple as this. How am I doing this, today?
- Making breakfast. Having eggs, spinach, a little bit of salami, and juice that it was easy to make food that would nourish us well for our days. Their papa woke them up gently, though they balked and struggled to wake up. Slowly, they awoke. And ate. And dressed, brushed teeth, put snow boots and coats on, and off we went to school. Some of these are such battles…and yet we loved well through the struggles.
- Snowballs, crunching on snow, finding our friends, walking together. One son with each of us. On time. And ready for school.
- Then, him to study, me to run. Thankful for a good run, a HOT shower, squats/pushups/pullups, and a delicious smoothie.
- Thankful to write, to wash and fold laundry, to make chicken stock, and to bake a delicious meal of baked chicken with sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, parsley, celeriac, and oranges. And that I paid our monthly bills, practiced a little bit of Polish, and visited and prayed with my mom. Now, time for me to walk to school to pick up our sons. One step at a time, doing the work that is before me. Time to go catch their hearts, connect, and love them well from now through bedtime.
Wednesday, 19 October 2016.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.
Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34
Focusing, one step and one moment at a time, on what is before me.
Just for now, I give thanks:
- For these tiny steps towards gentleness, being on time, loving one another well, being healthy, eating well, slowing down, noticing what is in front of me, putting my phone down, changing my habits, doing one small thing, chipping away at overwhelming tasks. I am moving forward and working on my goals.
- Doing three sets of 10 squats, 5 push ups, and 3 pull ups, while starting a load of laundry.
- Skip counting with my boys on our way to school, 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s and on up through 12s to 120.
- Though sluggish and fuzzy brained this morning, I moved forward and loved S&S one step at a time. Peacefully and with love, we walked out the door.
- For a spontaneous date with my beloved at a scrumptious new restaurant.
- Slowing down, listening carefully.
- One learning to tie his shoes, and learning how to read.
- One memorizing a poem, reciting the lines over and over again.
- I am thankful, to notice, pause, watch, and listen.
- Watching them RUN and play, and laugh.
- Great big belly laughs with our friends on our walk home from school. Her dear son was balking at carrying his backpack, he finally carried it, tossed it to his mother, and she caught it. All of us laughed great big belly laughs. It was delightful. I am thankful for our friends.
- I ran 6km with my friend along the river, and it was great.
- Conversing on the phone with my mom, and beginning our conversation with prayer. Bringing everything to Jesus’ feet, and placing everything and everyone in His gentle strong loving hands. He is Lord, Redeemer, Savior. My everything. Sovereign and in charge of the great big picture, and intimately involved and caring about the teeny tiny details in each of our lives.
- Ironing four shirts, crisp and clean.
- Step by step, doing this beautiful thing called Life.
Friday, 16 September 2016
“Every day, as long as this ‘today’ lasts,
keep encouraging one another” Hebrews 3:13
I continue to feel a burning in my heart to write and share. I am humbled and in awe of dear ones sharing their hearts with me. I see how so many ache and struggle, and face really hard battles. And yet, each of us continues to show up, and strives to live well and love well through the mundane details of our days. Some days are so hard for me, and yet many other days there is such peace and joy. Through it all, on my darkest days and in my days filled with peace and light, there is such grace and goodness from the nearness of Jesus Christ. I am humbled and thankful for my struggles, as I feel a much greater sense of compassion for when others ache and struggle. Sometimes, through encounters with one another at school dropoffs/pickups/playground exchanges, Facebook and Instagram, it can be so easy to make assumptions of one another and only see the bright shiny pretty side. And yet the more I learn, the more I am humbled and privileged to hear, I hear of deep heart aching struggles. I ponder how to be vulnerable, how to sit with and in these struggles and suffering, how to listen well and hold the space for one another to share. How to live well, share well, and love well. Brene Brown’s words in Rising Strong speak such encouragement in to my life and heart.
May I encourage you, dear one, to press in and lean in to Jesus? To love Him, and the ones He places around you? One step, one moment at a time.
I am learning to rest in Him. To trust Him, and to wait. In the trivial and the mundane, in the big and momentous, in and through it all, to rest in Him. I am seeking to walk with Him, moment by moment by moment. Step by step. One breath at a time. Sometimes I don’t have any patience or compassion left, and I ask Him for strength, peace, and help. “Please help me to love, right now. Please help me, to focus and DO this one next thing. Help me to see, ONE step that is before me.” And He does. When I am tired. When I am worried. When I am anxious. When I am stuck. And when I am at peace, thankful, and filled with joy and love. I thank Him for these precious gifts. He is present. All is grace.
Sometimes I long to control, and yet I continue to learn to let go, and trust Him. When we moved to Krakow last year. With our boys schooling. With not knowing Polish, and placing my conversations and exchanges in His hands. With each encounter. With this past summer, ohhhhh how would we spend our days. With right now, settling in to a new school year, with our boys schedules and commitments, with my days and passions and priorities. Trusting Him. Walking with Him. One step, one moment, one day at a time. And Jesus promises,
And behold, I am with you always[ALL OF YOUR DAYS], to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20
Monday, 30 May 2016.
Eucharisteo. Grace. Giving thanks. Giving. Thankful. Giving thanks precedes the miracle. All is grace.
Oh goodness, dear friends. My days, weeks, and months fly by. Is it almost a year since we moved to Poland?? In my days, in my moments, I have been seeking to walk faithfully with God. I’ve longed to be faithful in the mundane, to give thanks, to pause, and to love well. In and through so much, I have been and am thankful. And yet, I cannot believe it has been so much time since I have sat down to write and share. Could I sum up each month, in a sentence?? Each day has felt so full…and yet, through it all God is good. He is so good.
Perhaps I will come back to succinctly summarize these days and weeks and months, I’d like to try. But for now, this is enough:
He is good, always.
15 March 2015.
Often I feel my days run together and my weeks become a blur, so I wanted to pause, to remember and take note of the goodness that is our days.
Monday – my husband graciously watched our boys while I dashed off to the community college for a fitness assessment, then we took him to class and then I had a doctor’s appointment. No results or decisions, it’s time to take a test and see what’s going on in my gut. I called a dear friend, and I am thankful we were able to spend some time together. Our kids played. We visited. It was good to share our hearts, hear what’s going well and what’s hard, and share how we’re wrestling with our faiths and leaning in to God. Then I went to swimming, and was so thankful to spend time in the water. And then the boys and I went to the library. Ummmmm, we can have 50 books out per card, we have three cards, and there are no late fees. This spells T. R. O. U. B. L. E. to me. Or rather, we ARE trouble to our library. I have now lost my son. He’s buried deep in a book on the couch. I’ll see him again once he’s plowed through the latest stack of books. I’m trying to be intentional about reading more picture books on the couch with and to my boys.
On Tuesday we saw a show. I didn’t sleep very well or very much the night before, one fellow was sick and not too interested in jumping and jiving with the performers, and the other laughed and wriggled and sang along. I am still thankful we went.
Ah well, I am thankful for this, even though I only wrote about part of my week.
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.