Part of the Process

I have been attempting to write everyday.

I am finding that most of what I write is not worth posting and not heartfelt. I simply type out lines of words and thoughts that aren’t necessarily cohesive or true or intentional or compassionate. It is part of the process.

But I am realizing that when I fail to connect the flow of words on a page with the beat of my heart, the result is hollow. There is no content, no point, no draw, no change.  No invitation to stop and sink into the meaning, which we must find ourselves.

If I write to convince, I start to doubt my certainty in the first place.

If I begin to research in order to back up my claims, I dig a hole of searching for answers and I must stop before I can’t reach the top anymore.

So there are many drafts of half-hearted posts, lines of thoughts and beliefs and statements I feel strongly about voicing, but I haven’t found the words.

Writing everyday is liberating and discouraging and exciting and depressing and rewarding and just hard all at once.

For whatever reason, I have a flame inside and I must write. I must write words so they don’t burn a hole in me. I hardly even know what I am saying or what it is that I am bursting with, only that the words will come.  It is not really for you, reader, that I write. Not yet. I hope some day it might be, except when I write to you, I begin lose myself and the only reason this blog exists, this tiny speck of information in the vastness of the internet, is to reveal something.

Something about myself, about the world we live in, the choices we make, the things we get used to, the people and issues we dismiss, what is important and what is superficial.

I am learning how to speak and write from a place that is not so influenced by those around me. I am learning not to compare. I am learning to put myself out there, embrace vulnerability and not do things simply to gain approval.

-b.e.

 

 

What my ink means to me

 

inkmeanstomeThis year has brought about a lot of inward changes in myself that are just beginning to surface.

For most of my life, I have been so focused on who I don’t want to be, what I don’t want to be associated with, how I never want to come across as.

So I previously began to distance myself from these people and places and ways of living and organizations.  Although I don’t know if I always chose the best route, I do believe that this was an essential part of where I am today and I found that it is some times necessary to cut off areas of our life that are unhealthy.

Only recently have I realized that my focus has shifted.

I am no longer so concerned about who I don’t want to be.  I am starting to look forward to and embrace who I actually want to be.

And it is an empowering and exciting new direction in my life.

Instead of isolating and distancing myself from others, I am wanting to find those who already have much in common with where I feel called to be and surround myself with them.

Words are powerful and meaningful.  I think of Jesus words when he defines Peter’s name as the “rock” in context of how his church will be formed.

How did receiving that word shape his identity?  Who he believed himself to be and thus who he saw himself become?

It is similar when people speak words into our lives and something about it rings true and deep within and we somehow just know there is something to it.  And we remember it.  And it helps shape us.  It gives us a new lens in which we see our life and selves.

I wonder how different would we be if we hadn’t received certain words in our life?

The child who grows up being told how well they excel and intelligent they are.

The one who is more rambunctious when young and blamed for many circumstances.

The A+ student,the class clown, the tough guy or girl, the ladies man, the useless loser wasting away their lives, any type of person you have ever met or can categorize.  How much of this comes from the messages being sent to them from others?

Some are not so easily defined or found.  We are fairly good at adapting and fitting in when we need to.

But this is all part of life.  We can’t remove ourselves from it.  It is part of who we are and there is nothing to do about it.

Except.

Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are given a new name.

We are co-heirs with Christ.

Set free from the bondage of the titles we have been so carelessly given and have so easily accepted.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Freedom to be who we are, to celebrate the diversity there is between us.

In the past year, I have found a few words that have taken on a deep meaning in my life that I have felt become part of my identity.

 

September 013eucharisteo.

I was first introduced to this word while reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It is taken from the gospel of Luke, where it is translated as “he gave thanks”.

The root of this word is “Charis”, which is grace, and also contains the derivitave “chara” which means joy. (here is a conversation with Ann Voskamp if you would like to read further about the meaning she has personally found behind this word)

For me, this simple word becomes a reminder of finding grace and joy in giving thanks for even the smallest things in life, and beyond that, to extend that hopefully outward to others.

peacetatoo2Peace, be still

This is a small and simple phrase.  It’s the beginning to a song by Elevation Worship called, “all things new” which embodies the message that Christ wants to restore all things to their proper place and have all creation share in the fullness of his peace.

march 008

bold

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about this which you can view here.  This word has acted as a catalyst for me in many ways.  To be bold in my gifts, abilities, identity, and faith is a challenge and it is causing me to grow.

I am not deciding to do things just for the sake of being bold, but rather I am no longer shying away from the things that I am passionate about because of the words of uncertainty I have accepted in my life for so long.

I am tired of striving so hard to fit into a mold that is not made for me or to impress certain people or to seem so perfect that I don’t do anything out of fear of failure.

I believe that as followers of Christ, as those who are to bring a message of hope and peace and kingdom principles here on earth, a great amount of boldness is needed.

– b.e.

further reading:

Your Name In Christ – (in)courage blog

Seeking the Peace of Christ: Christianity and Peacemaking

Justice = Forgiveness – EmergingAnabaptist

fully embracing the moment

My friend pinned this image on pinterest the other day, and I found it to be a simple reminder of living in the present and with intentionality.

I have had so many things on my mind lately – plans, ideas, projects – that  I find myself constantly going over in my head when I will get to the next task and how I will go about getting it done, while only halfheartedly participating in the richness of the moment around me.  

This has been on my mind for a little while now, and I feel challenged this week to make more intentional choices about how my time is spent and where my focus is in every moment, thinking less about myself and more about the broader picture of how my actions effect others.  I want to be fully embracing what I am doing or being a part of and not be constantly worrying about all those other loose-ends and never ending to-dos on my list.

Trying to remember that they will still be there – waiting on my list – for when it is time to focus on them.

– b.e.

some thoughts on simplicity

When I first began to think about reducing the excess in our life in order to embrace simplicity and gain more time for the things that are important, the task seemed daunting and nearly impossible in many ways.

I started by evaluating what in my life was a need and what was a want.  At first, this became an absolute obsession.   I would lay awake at night thinking about these things.  Every time I stepped into an area of my house, I found myself figuring out how to eliminate the unnecessary.

The first things to go were things I bought and disposed of frequently, like disposable diapers and purchasing items that had unnecessary packaging.  I began to make more homemade cleaning solutions and hair products so that I wouldn’t be wasting bottles (or having all those chemicals in our home).  Starting to do these things led me to reduce other areas of over-consumption.   Once you being to question these things, you just find yourself asking harder and harder questions, which at times, you will not have any sort of tangible answer to.  This is where it can get a little tricky and discouraging, because you will contradict yourself.

A lot.

At least, I do all the time.  And then I have to remember that this is all a process.   If I am not afraid of making mistakes or what others may perceive me as and am able to maintain a willingness to learn, then this crazy, never-ending rabbit hole can become a journey full of joy, rather than fear of failing or not doing enough.

So, here are a some things I’ve learned since beginning to de-clutter our life, which helps me to keep things in perspective when circumstances change and the whole pursuit seems too large a task:

1. start where you are

Don’t expect to be able to change your life overnight.  This is a process.  In our culture of fad diets and immediate fixes, taking time and waiting to see change can be a hard discipline to learn.  Learn from others who have gone before you and use their example as inspiration, but don’t try to become exactly like them or expect to accomplish all of the same things in the same way.  What is a big step and challenging for you may be completely different for someone else.  Don’t be disappointed if this whole thing takes time.  I imagine it should take a lifetime.

2. start small

Make little changes at a time.  Slowly adopting new habits and adjusting them is all part of the process.  You may make mistakes, you may learn new and better ways of doing things, but the important thing is that you keep adjusting and don’t allow yourself to become completely overwhelmed.  And if you do – it’s okay!  Take a break and then get back into it when you are ready.  There have been many times when I have “relapsed” so to speak, because I felt like I couldn’t give it ALL up or do it all.  Simplifying does take some work (don’t think that simple means less work – a future post in the making), but it doesn’t have to all happen at once.

3. focus on the positive

I’ll use food as an example.

It seems to me that many diets are about restrictions.  You can’t have carbs.  No gluten.  No fruit after 1pm.  Whatever.  Many times when I talk about the changes we have made in our diet, people respond with, “I could never give up (fill in the blank)!”  This reaction is focused on the negative – on what you are giving up instead of what you are gaining.

The number one question we get asked since we became vegetarians/changed our diet is, “What do you eat, then?”  A lot of food, actually, and a greater variety than before.    I focus more on the delicious, nourishing and healing foods we get to eat, rather than on the stuff we’re “missing out” on because we’re all “crunchy” and “healthy” now.  What we have found in our life to be true is that change can be a much healthier process when you are focusing on who you want to be rather than on who you don’t want to be.

4. find a healthy balance

Balancing is all about making adjustments.  Try to balance on one foot.  You will notice that your body is making tons of little adjustments to stop itself from falling over, and sometimes when you start to fall, you have to “reset” and tap your other foot on the floor to regain your balance.  We have to do the same thing in life.

Living with less has helped us as a family spend more time together and out in our community and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Some of the ways we have simplified have just been a natural outcome of life circumstances, while others have been intentional choices we have made. As these circumstances change, we are constantly discussing and making more adjustments.  When we lose our focus and find ourselves reverting to old habits, we try to “reset”.  We regain our footing and start again.

Sometimes, you just need to take a break.

Take more walks.

Breathe.

Find space to rest and evaluate.  

Do what energizes you.

Have coffee or tea with a friend who will listen and help give you some perspective on the change you have made in you life.  

Reconnect with what you are passionate about.

Make a new plan and start again to take steps toward your goals.

– b.e.

Recommended Reading:

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (one of the books that disrupted my life unexpectedly)

You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel (interesting thoughts on happiness and simplicity)