embracing what is

DSC_0016DSC_0007DSC_0019bwDSC_0012DSC_0018Her quick steps lightly skip across the pavement, beckoning me to hurry and catch up.  We dash down the gravel path and round the corner to the museum entrance.  Her face is aglow as she realizes that the words I spoke this morning, the promise made of places yet to be seen, really did come true.

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Days come and go quickly and sometimes, seasons change abruptly.  I can recall some early September mornings when the air grew cold overnight and you wake up and dig in your drawer for the wool socks much sooner than expected.  It can feel a little bit like the earth is betraying you – summer hasn’t lingered quite long enough and suddenly, the cold creeps in and steals your last warm sunsets away.

But after a bit, you relax a little.  Pull your sweater around snug and cup your mug of tea with your hands, feeling the warmth transferring and transforming.

The cold is doing its job.

If we remained stagnant forever, what would life be?  How would we grow and how limited would our perspective be?  In the end, we are thankful for the changing seasons.

—-

January 1st.  Just a day.  It could be any day.  But this day has ushered in a new season for me.  Nothing has really changed around me, but I have chosen to embrace what is.

Being more present to my children, finding time to reflect and plan, and being more intentional and mindful with my time has opened up so many possibilities for this year already.

I am dreaming again.

Today, this meant embracing the odd schedule my son’s classes are and devoting that time to my daughter.  We went to the local children’s museum and played together, and I reveled in watching her role play and problem solve and practice her social skills.

We walked to the art museum and catching a glimpse of the wonder in ehr eyes and hidden pleasure as she listened to the very sweet woman who, with joy, guided her to a whimsical woodland scene. Time at the library together, and before we knew it, time was up and we picked up her brother.

I was starting to feel like the drive and the time “stuck” in the area was a complete inconvenience in my life.

But just a small shift of perspective reveals that truly it was a beautiful opportunity.

b.e.

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my view around here

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I have felt like I am going non-stop the last 4 weeks, between children and school and the rest of life.  It feels so good to be out in the sun again and I am thankful for all the joy that is to be found in my life.  How is it that things are so good?  As I am learning again in a formal setting, I am also learning again how much I don’t know, how to slow down, be content, and present in the moment.  School will be slowing down soon, as I am finishing up one class early.  I am looking forward to the extra time to be with my littles and not feel so rushed and pre-occupied so much of the time again.  Hopefully I will be able to share some more of what has been on my mind again soon.  For now, this is a different season.

– 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.

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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

bold

Over the Holidays, I felt increasingly “out of rhythm”.  Mundane things were harder for me to focus on or accomplish while we were interrupted from our usual routines with time off and extended family gatherings.

There is a time when rest is needed and it is good. Especially when it allows for reflection and self-evaluation, but I am glad that the new year is here and we are slowly settling back into every day life.

I am looking forward to and hoping for change this year, even as I become more content with where we are.

Around this time each year, I tend to adopt a theme or word.  This has become a habit both Jeremy and I have somehow fallen into.  We often talk about the seasons of life we find ourselves in and many times, define them with a word.  There is something in us that for some reason begins to change, and suddenly that change becomes a true desire.  We have found that being able to identify what that desire is to be valuable to our formation. Some seasons we don’t understand until after they pass and others we enter into with a certain expectancy, even if we don’t know exactly what it is that will come from it.

The word on my heart for 2014 is: bold.

There have been some moments in my life where I have done something that took some boldness, but I don’t think many people would use the word bold to describe me.  

We craft collections of pictures in our head (or on Pinterest) of who we want to be or don’t want to be, and the more we focus on those images, the more we become like it.

Everyone feels a little awkward or discontent about themselves at some point in their life and I don’t think that wanting to change something about ourselves or push ourselves to grow is a bad thing.  There are some things that really should be left behind, and most likely, there always will be.

But at some point, we need to move on from being so uncertain of ourselves, for I have come to realize that a girl who is always striving looks just like that.

Some times it is obvious, other times, it is harder to tell.

Because sometimes others are looking at the striving girl, themselves wanting to be more or less like her, not realizing she is just trying to be something else.

While others are looking at that girl and saying, “Oh.  There is so much more to you than that.”

And once in a while, the girl actually hears those words deep and something trembles inside her gut and she realizes she has been chasing something fruitless and fake.

It takes courage to accept that.

And beginning to strip away the false identities and questioning the things you used to believe and embracing a journey to find who you really are and realizing that you won’t arrive there overnight takes a certain boldness.

Because at first, you might not like who you really are, and maybe not everyone else will either.  You might not always get a chance to explain yourself, and even when you do, it might not make a difference.  But something amazing happens when you begin to become secure in who you are.

You suddenly have a lot more to offer and a lot more to learn.  There is a freedom in that you don’t have to be like anyone or try to make anyone be like you. You just are who you are, and you will inspire those who will be inspired by you and help those you are meant to help.  No longer are you threatened by those who are different from you, but you can learn from them and embrace the differences and learn to understand things from different perspectives without having to make yourself feel better by either elevating yourself or putting others down.

Beginning to publish my thoughts here, and even opening my Etsy shop, were some small steps in this direction.  In a world of social media, where most of us only put up the best and most exciting pictures of our lives, it is intimidating to attempt to be transparent and vulnerable.

And yet, this is what I really long for in all areas of my life:  Authenticity. Humility. Honesty.

With this, I believe, comes a great need for boldness.

-b.e.

the wait is over

It feels like the last two years of our life have been spent waiting.

Just over two years ago, we found ourselves here in Indianola.  We didn’t know why we were here.  We had no plans of staying long term.  It was sort of a resting place to get back on our feet and figure out who we were and where we were going.  That winter, I became pregnant with our second baby, and that advent season took on a very real meaning of expectancy in our lives.  We were expecting to find what was next, to welcome another sweet babe into our home, to see what fruit may come from the things we were passionate  about.  Life was good and exciting.

Things didn’t change much until last January when I applied for an opportunity which took 4 months to complete the interview process for.  In the past, most jobs we have applied for have always been very quick and sudden, so it was different for us to go through such a slow process.  I was glad for the pace things went and when I was not offered the position, we let out a small sigh of relief and found ourselves feeling ready to embrace a longer time here than we thought.

Come summer, my husband unexpectedly came across another new and exciting possibility for our family.  We began that process near the beginning of July.

And we found ourselves waiting for nearly 6 months to find out if this was the next step for our family.

This past week, my husband finally received the long awaited phone call which would give us the answer.

And in that moment – just like that – the wait was over.

We could stop holding our breathe, and boy, does it feel good to breathe deep and begin to reconnect and be a part of the life around us again.

During this time of not knowing – not knowing if we would go or stay or what we were going to do – I found myself feeling increasingly disconnected from the people and things going on around me.

It wasn’t on purpose.  I love our friends and family and meeting people in our community and I know that if I don’t spend time with others, I become listless and stressed.  I somehow found myself doing things halfheartedly – unable to focus on what was in front of me.

This has been a lesson not only in patience, but in not losing ourselves in the waiting.

Because I have definitely felt lost.  Like I have just been floating along with no sense of rhythm or depth in the day-to-day.

The days blend into each other when all you are doing is waiting.

When asked how my week had been, I wouldn’t know what to say.  Fine, I guess.  I couldn’t even tell you what I had done the previous week.  I knew we were doing something, right?  I felt tired, but I wasn’t sure why.  Everything had been overshadowed by the waiting and wondering and anxiety and excitement, and I couldn’t let you in on it, because it felt like it wasn’t that important, and yet,

I was being consumed by it.

In some ways, the waiting is still  not over.  Every time a possibility closes, it seems that we are suddenly given several more.  This is why the waiting seems to continue; there are ongoing options and only time seems to tell which one we should choose.

Only this time, a deep desire is awakening inside of me to fully embrace the here and now around us, even in the midst of waiting and the possibility of change.

-b.e.

photo and design credit: b.e.