Setting Sail And A Community Of Dreamers

When Your Dreams Need A Community

 

It was back in the days before I had time to myself. Back when bottles, diapers, preschoolers and four kids in seven years took up all the free time, and then some. Our friends  affectionately called them “the blurry years.” Late nights, early mornings and busy, lots of busy. Days of dishes and laundry. A uniform comprised of clothing that wouldn’t hold tight to spit up, finger paint and dirt. If you had looked in on our slightly chaotic world I would have been the first to tell you, this was my dream.Well, one of them at least.

I never did find a way to enjoy waking up in the middle of the night, but I loved sticky fingers, wet kisses and rocking to the rhythm of sweet baby breaths. Baby socks, stroller walks and teaching ABC’s, all of it was a dream come true for me. A gift. Along with the best husband on the planet, the six of us were a community. Our church had closed, and we were drifting in a lifeboat wondering if we would find somewhere to dock. Sometimes there were neighbors, family and friends, but mostly just us. We were living out our dream.  Encouraging, crying, laughing, praying and lending a hand.

Because sometimes our dreams only need a community of a few who will stand with us…

Back in December, I was thrilled to be included in a wonderful community of writers over at God Sized Dreams. This first post is setting sail there today. To read the rest of the story, keep me company on this maiden voyage and visit some amazing writers, click here:

When Your Dreams Need A Community 

 

    Walking with you in everyday Grace, 

 

{Five Minute Friday} -Slow

My mother used to use the phrase “Slower than molasses, climbing uphill in January.” She was referring to my ability to finish a task I didn’t want to do. But I like slow. 

I like the early morning waking when there isn’t a litany of to-do’s ahead of me. I love the slow creak of the swing on a sultry summer night. There is something soothing about the slow boil of soup on the stove and time to sit, read, talk and listen as an evening slips slowly by.

There is value in slow 

I’m usually caught in the quick lane. Life is anything but idle. There are always things to be done, timelines to follow and the tyranny of the urgent. When I wake, I’m usually running ahead of myself, before my feet hit the floor. 

The slow, it seems, needs to be found, etched out, intentional. A deep breath in the middle of a five yard sprint. Minutes of time stolen from the hours, to stop and really look, listen and learn. The empty gift of an hour we refuse to let fill with a stream of crazy.  

There’s beauty in slow

The stillness, the purposed slowing of things, gives time for reflection, consideration and simply being. 

I cannot stop the waves from crashing to the shore in rhythmic insistence but I can stand beside them, still. I can walk along them, slow. I can lean into the one that sets them in motion and know who it is that stands outside of time and inside all the busy. 

I can be still.

    Walking with you in everyday Grace,

{So, full disclosure, I just couldn’t stop at 5 minutes, it was more like 9! I’m just too wordy!} 

When You Need A Reminder

They’re sitting quietly in the back of the van, which is unusual for six and nine year old boys. I take the quiet moment and use it to talk because we have things we need to discuss. I tell these sweet boys, we need to come up with a plan for our after-school time.

The last two days have been too full of crazy, and they need a reminder. I love our time together, it’s a good, fun, safe time. But, it is neither fun nor safe to argue, fight and hurt each other. When I ask them if they agree, there is only quiet and nodding heads.

 The stoplight turns red, and I peer behind me at their thoughtful faces. “So, what do you think?” I ask. What could we do to make sure our time together is great and you are in a good place when mom comes to pick you up?”

The light turns green and we are halfway down the next block before there is a small voice from the littlest in the back seat. “We could be not so rough with each other?”I smile at him in the rear-view and tell him that’s a wonderful idea!  While we weave our way home, we keep working on the plan. We chat about brothers and how love is important.

“Sometimes, I think you get so focused on what you want, you forget. It’s a good thing to remember.”

Breaking his silence, the nine year old says, “Will you remind us?” I tell him that’s a perfect idea to add to our plan. We decide before it gets out of hand, before we lose the good and safe and fun, I will remind them about behavior, about treating each other well and I will remind them about love.

Long after I have cleaned up the snack and they’ve said goodbye, I’m still thinking about our conversation. These brothers, learning to navigate growing up, are not the only ones who need reminders. My own heart needs to hear those words.

“Sometimes, I think you get so focused on what you want, you forget. Its a good thing to remember.”

Love is important. It’s what we’re called to. All of us. And the more we know and experience how much we are loved by the God of the universe, the more we’re able to walk in that calling.  We’re better able to love  others well, as we are loved. 

I need to be reminded. In the busy of the everyday, in the crush of all the things life seems to toss our way, sometimes I forget. Any chance you do as well? Maybe we need a plan. A few words from a friend that will help to shift our focus off of the crazy and back to the safe, loving arms of our good God. He loves us, completely, extravagantly, and infinitely. When we live out of that love, it changes things! Today and everyday our hearts need to hear this reminder. Wherever you are, wherever you’ve been, no matter what it looks like or who is telling you otherwise, the beautiful truth is this:

You Are Loved! 

    Walking with you in everyday Grace, 

 

Walmart On A Saturday And Weaving Hope

On any given day Walmart is a bustling hub for shoppers, and especially on Saturdays. But the oil in the van needs to be changed. The mechanic behind the counter squints at the clock and tells us it will be at least an hour. Something about another employee on his break and the timing of these things. I don’t really listen to the whole conversation. The most important part of it has already been spoken. I have one hour to wander the store. 

 I’m here because my favorite grocery app says cucumbers are on sale. It’s an important note because we love cucumbers, but in the winter they don’t often love my budget. Its also nice to wander aisles by myself. It only takes two aisles for the best husband to find a bench and pull out his book. He’s doing what he loves and today I am more than content to wander alone.

The air is filled with a heavenly smell, something between roasted chicken and cheese. I’m guessing its coming from the sample booth, judging by the size of the crowd at the end of the dairy section. Buggy wheels squeak, children cry, and the loud speaker spits out a static easy listening track. Walmart at its finest. I need coconut milk, but I can’t seem to find any in the usual place, so I start the game of  “Maybe it’s in with the…” Navigating the coffee and tea aisle I peruse the cans of evaporated milk, but no coconut.

I hear him before I see him. He’s to my left, holding a plastic carry basket and choosing tea. Muttering to himself as he contemplates the selection, he makes me smile a little. That’s what I do, list off the names of things until I come to the one I want. Only I do it in my head. I try not to stare at the shock of white hair and a well worn coat barely concealing  a fragile frame with stooped shoulders.

He moves closer to where I’m standing and when I offer an encouraging smile its returned by a wide, almost toothless grin. A thin stream of drool escapes the corner of his mouth and plummets down a poorly shaven chin. He nods, the smile having reached all the way to his eyes and returns to his tea selection. His shaking hands make it difficult. 

The aisle is crowded.  Several buggies and shoppers past between us before I can turn to offer my help, but  the woman who’d been deciding on coffee whiteners steps in. I watch from the end of the shelves as she listens, and then hands him a box. He shuffles to the post with the price finder, but his shaking means the machine can’t read the bar code. Again, I head up the aisle to help, but before I can reach him, another shopper holds his hand. Steady’s him. It’s the loveliest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Five minutes of time, a smile,  some help, a steadying hand. We’re walking these aisles and  weaving a tapestry of community that may only last a moment, but the threads of kindness, grace and love reach far beyond these block walls.

There’s that beautiful grin again. He’s visibly grateful for the help, and the price that flashes on the display. He brushes past me for the last time with a smile and a nod. We are two people, grateful for good. Thankful for kindness, and holding on to threads of hope. 

It’s not just a Saturday in Walmart. It’s all of us, everywhere. Spinning threads of  light, grace, and peace, because of the one that lives in us. I want to walk into the everyday, weaving patchwork communities of love because of the one who loves. Looking for His goodness, listening for His heart.

He has told you, O man, what is good;And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micha 6:7-9

        Walking with you in everyday Grace, 

 

 

Celebrating Big And Small And Why It’s Important

Sunday was the celebration of Chinese New Year. No matter how many DNA tests I agreed to, none of them would put me anywhere close to having an Asian heritage. But I still wanted to celebrate. Why? Because it happens every January. And joining in with others to celebrate is fun even if its not really my celebration. Around here its also the way to mark the end of January, a step closer to Spring. It’s a  little bit of time carved out on the daily path to do something fun, to brighten the place we’re in. And lets not forget, our family likes Chinese food!

Take-out would have been easier, but our food restrictions get in the way of easy sometimes. If we were having Chinese, I was making it! It was fun trying new recipes, plus it was healthy and delicious.  More than one friend said “Of course you are, you guys celebrate everything.” It’s kind of true. Although not everything. I do believe in finding the good, in looking for reasons to give thanks and find the fun. There is always, always something to be thankful for! At the very least on Saturday I was thankful for good food and the chance to try something new, not to mention family, healthy choices and a fun way to mark another month.

It’s about choosing Joy, finding delight in the everyday 

Sometimes, that means being intentional.

 Monday brought with it a flurry of activity. The white fluffy kind that swirled around the driveway and gathered in little piles by the front door. It’s not the snow I mind. It’s the grey. The sun has refused to come out of hiding here for quite some time. But, Monday was the day before my friend *Michelle DeRusha’s book was launching. If you’ve read any of her other books you know she’s an amazing writer and this book is no exception. The only problem with helping to launch a book is being so far away from the author! Celebrating her beautiful accomplishment had to be done on-line. 

Since the sun was temporarily refusing to light up this corner of the world, I decided to create my own. I lit a candle, arranged a centerpiece, and posted a photo as an encouragement for friends. It doesn’t have to be a grand parade or fireworks.  Simply finding the good and taking a moment to celebrate and give thanks, changes things. 

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. (Psalm 27)

I carried this verse around all week, and finally looked it up. Its a chapter not unlike the world we find ourselves in. There is sadness and hard, confusion, anger, hurt, and turmoil. Despair often hovers over the wreckage of unanswered questions. But God.  He is in the middle of the hard, the center of our swirling circumstances, great or small.  He is with us and in us, and He is always, always good. 

When we walk with him, in him, we see his goodness all around us.

Sunday, we’ll be celebrating the super bowl. Not so much football(we’re not a sporty family) more as a time to be creative with food, laugh, listen and enjoy each others company. I will be giving thanks for family and the gift they are to me.

But today is Friday. And today I am celebrating a good report from my oncologist. Another six months all clear. Three years have passed since my last treatment and I have two more years of check ups before I can wave a final goodbye to my cancer clinic. Three years of grace and goodness and I am more grateful than I have words to express! Tonight, I will share good coffee on a date night with the best husband and we look to the future, looking for the good and true and kind. We will celebrate the goodness of God in the land of the living, because we believe in the one who celebrates with us! 

        Walking with you in everyday Grace,

*Michelle’s book Katharina and Martin Luther (The radical marriage of a runaway nun and a renegade monk) is available on Amazon!  Michelle has taken a little known story and given us not only information, but a beautiful, enlightening account of monastery escapes,marriage, raising children and homemade beer! When you get to the last page, you feel like you know them,like you’ve spent time with the Luthers! Michelle immerses us in a history that few of us know and all of us need to. This is a must read! (I received a copy as part of her launch team, in exchange for my honest opinion and honestly… its great!)

 

 

Wading In On Writing, Waiting And Being

I’ve been trying to write. For more than a month I have started and stopped, and stopped altogether. It has been a gradual slowing down or drying up  for almost a year.

 We prepped for Christmas, celebrated Advent and rang in a brand new year. And all the while I was wondering if it was finished, this season of writing here in this place. I know its like that sometimes. We have seasons in our lives that hold us tight in good and beautiful things and then release us into something else. We pass through seasons like the coming and going of tides, and our good God, the one who set all of this in motion, He knows the best timing for all of it. 

It was all I could do some days not to go to my keyboard, but it wasn’t so much a couldn’t, as a quiet voice that whispered “wait.”  On Christmas eve I sat through, no, cried through the service. In my head I was writing all the words that sprang from deep gratitude for Emmanuel, the God who came. Beautiful words that never made it to a page, because they weren’t supposed to. We attended parties and celebrations and when asked about my writing I did alot of smiling and nodding and wondered what would happen if I just blurted out “I’ve been barely writing for the past year because God has been saying wait, and until he says go or stop altogether I’m waiting.” Instead I said “It’s good” because in truth, it is. Being where we need to be, listening for His heart,  is always good.

When the calendar page announced a new month, a new year, I thought I should probably write my annual post about beginnings and starting fresh. I was contemplating new things, I had a plan. But in between my newly scheduled day book lines, in ink that only He can provide, was written the word “wait.” And so I did. And while it felt uncomfortable, there was something deep down that resonated with the waiting, it was right.  

School started back late this year, and we enjoyed a week of family time together. I came and stood at my desk, this amazing space made for me by the best husband, many times. I ran my fingers over the keys and wondered what was ahead.  

And then there was that little word. The word I dismissed, because who would believe it could be whispered into my heart as a word for the year? But it kept washing over me like waves on a soft sand beach, rhythmic and insistent.

BE 

Be? Be what? 

Be you. Who you were created to be.

I didn’t have to look too far back in the year to see the places I had given up being me in favour of someone’s approval or idea of what they might think of me.

It had crept in again slowly, little lies clouding the truth of my identity, who I am in Christ

BE

As recognition dawned, I still had to ask again,

Be what? 

There are alot of things hitched-up to that little word! 

Be-Kind, Be-joyful, Be-not afraid, Be-strong, Be-bold, Be-thankful, Be-still, Be-reconciled, Be-free, Be-patient…

So I’m setting out into this new year armed with a lengthy list of Be’s. Not a to-do list, or a check list. A litany of hope, a stream of  things possible. Encouragements, commands, truth. All the things that result from living in the knowledge and experience of who I am in Christ and who He created me to be. A year of wading in and well, being.

Part of being me is writing. It’s my voice, my heart, and it needs to flow out of  being. The wait is over. He says comeSo, I’m following the one I love, and who loves me more than I understand and I am ready to be swept into whatever that looks like. I am longing to just BE. While I splash around this year, I will be here, writing out my heart and thoughts. I hope you’ll join me. Not just here in this place, but in the amazing ocean of his unending love.

 

      Walking with you in everyday Grace,

 

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