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, 

 

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,

 

What Makes A Summer Memory?(When Heaven Touches Earth)

Everything smells like summer. The air in the carport holds the lingering scent of sunscreen and if I close my eyes I can imagine miles of brightly coloured umbrellas staked into soft sand, brilliant blue skies overhead. The air is tinged with salt, and the breaking waves keep time with my heart.

Sunscreen is a memory smell.

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The air outside is thick. It’s as if the air were tangible, like you could stretch out a hand in front of you and touch it. Walking to the garden feels just like being wrapped in a warm damp wool blanket. If I close my eyes I can still see our first born, see that one curl on the back of her baby neck, her chestnut hair responding to summer’s heavy breeze.

Humidity can be a cloak of  memory.

The Salvia is deep purple, and bigger than its ever been. When I close my eyes to drink in the fragrance of the garden, a buzzing sound makes me jump back. Bees love the Salvia, but I don’t like bees. I try, but I’ve had too many close encounters, felt the pain of  too many  stings while the sun burnt the grass and Popsicle juice dripped  down my arms. 

Sometimes memories serve as important reminders.

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The old swing creaks happily while dusk settles in. The long length of days provide time to sit well into the evening, listening to crickets chirp, surrounded by the fragrance of pine. It’s my favourite place to  be at the end of a day. It’s the only place you can sit with a bit of shelter if it begins to rain. And as much as this girl loves Autumn, it’s always a little sad when the swing goes back into the shed to wait out the colder weather. 

There are memories we make in Summer that are meant to walk us through the cold.

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The sound of it is intoxicating. It bubbles up from anyone of us for the craziest of reasons. Probably because we’re together a little more. No classes in summer, just work. Time for guests and family visits. And if I could assign an anthem to summer, it would be laughter. The spontaneous kind, like when we spill eggs on the couch, watch a you tube video, enjoying being together. 

Laughter creates memories that stick with you, long after the noise and deep breath have faded away.

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Like every season, like life, Summer is fleeting. The crisp scent of autumn will be here before we know it. And so, we take every day, every moment, the creativity, relationship, and we look for the good, discover the grace.  We have the chance to take the hand of the creator and let Him point out the beauty and happiness to be found in the season.

We make memories.

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We delight in everything we can, every hot, sticky, crazy minute of all that’s in front of us, because memory reminds us it will soon be behind us. And we give thanks with grateful hearts for so much grace. When we trust our good God, walking  with Him in grace through the seasons,

Our memories become a tiny glimpse into all the goodness that’s ahead.

The joy, the beauty, creativity, the delight, all of the good there is to be found in our seasons, our relationships, communities, our lives, is a bit of heaven touching earth. We’re covered in the fingerprints of the One who’s preparing something amazing. And one day, 

All of this will be a memory.

 

   Walking with you in everyday Grace,

 

Courage Dear Heart: It’s Time To Do This

We were sitting on a bench in a crowded airport terminal, because it was time. She was glancing out the window, and I’m sure the sight of massive planes sitting on the tarmac waiting, only heightened her nervousness. It was a first flight.

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We watched people mill around, fussy babies being fed and lots of hugging goodbyes. And I talked. I reassured and convinced and used all the words I knew to calm her, to bolster the confidence I knew was there. Speaking courage. In the end, I wasn’t helping. Because when you’re about to do something difficult, and you’ve planned and thought and figured out all the steps, when you’ve run through the list of a thousand what ifs and tried to imagine all the variables that might change things, sitting going over it all again is not the answer.

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The answer is,

It’s time to do this.

And so I prayed. Standing behind a large advert sign we prayed for all that’s ahead, and we remember who is in control, we we belong to. She’s always wanted to do this. He prompted this desire in her to travel half way ’round the world and He is going to see her through.

She just needs to step out and do it.

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So she follows the crowd down a hallway till she disappeared from sight. I breathed deep and held on to my phone, because she’s going to text when she’s at the gate. I know it’s going to be good. I know because she walks with Aslan and he is good, always.  Whatever happens, however things go, there will be learning, growing and the pure delight of being in a new place, discovering more of who she was created to be. My phone sounds off and she is waiting at the gate. I whisper,

You can do this… Go!

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And she did. She emails about her adventures and we are so grateful for all she is experiencing! And while I give freely the advice to my children I know sometimes they’re words that my own heart needs to embrace.  

For a long time I have been nervously glancing out my hearts  window peering at a massive task and trying to plan the steps, listing the thousand what ifs. The best husband and friends have been reassuring me, trying to bolster confidence they know is there. There’s been a lot of talking. 

And I just need to do it.

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So on Friday I will headed out to a writing retreat of sorts. I have been gifted the use of a friends house for a week, so that I can make some serious headway on the novel I’m writing. I’m taking a deep breath. Speaking courage. Whatever happens, however things go, there will be learning, growing and the pure delight of being in a new place, discovering more of who I  was created to be. Because I have always wanted to do this. I believe it’s been Him, prompting this desire, and I know He will walk with me. It may be the worst novel ever written, or maybe not. If I fail or fly, I want to follow my heart, to try. And to do that…

I need to step out and do it.

So the sweet people I live with are cheering me on and willing to hold down things at home while I bury myself in writing work. This space will be quiet for two weeks while I try and be as free from other distractions as possible.(I may still stop in to Instagram if I need another kind of creative outlet, plus I just love it there!) I’m packing a bag, trusting my good God, and whispering…

You can do this, Go!

Tell me I’m not alone. Where are you headed? What difficult tasks are waiting? What dreams are you following?

“The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”Ex 33:14

  Walking with you in everyday Grace,

 
 
 Linking up with these lovely communities:
 
       
  
 
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