Future Investments

Pause.         Let your mind drift back…and farther back…and farther still.  Where did you go? What memories floated to the forefront of your thoughts? What mental doors did you start to open and then slam shut? Where did you linger? Which faces brought warmth to your heart and which ones sent chills through your spine?

My memories pique my interest. At times I am surprised by the names that pop into my head – people I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Other times there will be a recurring thought, perhaps things I played as a child, or places I visited, or events in which I was a participant. Certain memories cause me to recoil; certain people bring tears of joy or sorrow or bitterness to my eyes. Every so often I regret missed opportunities and wonder what fond memories they would have brought had I seized the day.

I believe that the circumstances and people of which our memories are comprised are what shape our identities and have influenced the people we are in this moment. Each person has left a fingerprint upon our values and opinions; each event or situation or cause in which we spent time has given us experience to reflect upon and, in turn, prompts our future decisions. With this perspective in mind, it prompts me to pose the question: how will we live tomorrow?

There is less than a month left of the year 2018. It behooves us to reflect on how we are going to move forward in the year ahead:

  • How much time is spent with Jesus each day?
  • Which individuals need more of my time and attention?
  • Are there habits that need to be removed or cultivated?
  • How can I keep my mind from stagnating?
  • What opportunities do I want to seize?
  • Do I need to refresh my priorities?

Every moment that I live is an investment into my future. I want it to be worthwhile.

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The Humility in Change

Have you observed yourself doing something because you have always done it? Do you hold on to certain activities, styles, methods because you have a reputation for them? Do you do something because you know you’re good at it and you might not be good at doing something else?

I have observed these things about myself and realized that I am avoiding change because it hurts my pride. I like having the reputation of being well-balanced in all that I do. I like the idea that I’m well-rounded and able to juggle motherhood and everything else. I have held myself to a certain standard of quality and consistency and hate admitting that I can maintain that standard without letting go of certain activities I’ve always done.

It’s humbling to say I can’t do it all. That means I’ve dropped the ball on more than one occasion. It means I’ve messed up more than I care to acknowledge. It means I have to say “ta ta for now” to things I truly enjoy doing and people I enjoy interacting with on a regular basis.

But it’s also freeing. It means I can linger a little more, breathe a little deeper, and focus a little longer. It means that I know what my priorities are and I’m upholding them. It means that what I’m keeping is going to flourish with extra cultivation and I have made peace with the things I’m letting go.

Change is hard but it is healthy. It is indicator of growth in life and in character. It’s ok to be wistful when encountering change, but it’s also ok to allow it to refresh you.

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And Just Like That…

I am taking your birthday photos for the third year in a row. I dressed you up in a new outfit and you loved every minute of the process. We brushed out your hair and chatted about whether or not we should put in a hair clip. We decided not to. Then we gathered up the photo props and went outside. You eagerly climbed up on the rustic stool and held the flower I gave you. “This is fun!” you declared. Every moment of your special day has been treasured by you- and that’s simply one more precious thing about the person you are. Special moments, no matter how small, are savored by your sincere heart.

We chat as I snap different poses. I’m trying to capture the essence of who you are but I doubt that can be done in a photograph. It takes spending daily life with you to know exactly who you are. I savor the little conversations overflowing from your busy mind and expressive tongue. You verbalize deep ponderings in quiet moments and I’m thankful we live slowly so you can articulate them and I can listen.

You flourish at being you! You appreciate your own skin and are comfortable with your likes and dislikes. I know that I am a deeper person, a more appreciative person, because I spend time observing you. I am thankful for every instance I put down my phone so that I can look in your eyes or snuggle you in my lap or chat with you. No moment spent in your company is wasted. Gratitude fills my soul at every one of your birthdays because I know I have treasured every single day of those years. I am learning to linger, to not mind the midnight slumber parties, to let you help whenever you ask, to repeat answers, to not make little messes a big deal…because I know the years slip by…just like that.

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The Challenge to Do Less

As indicated in my previous post, I have very little spare time. There is so much going on, in fact, that I have very little to write about in my very few moments of spare time. This season has presented me with a fresh challenge: to do less rather than more. It goes against my nature but I have come to terms with it.  The question is: how do I meet this challenge?

One of the first things I have done is identify the priorities of the day; this is followed by reducing or eliminating anything that would distract from them. Social media has hung in the balance during this evaluation phase. It is essential to my  business and it certainly is a useful means of keeping up with the happenings in the lives of other people.  It is also convenient for keeping others updated on the events of my life without having to make individual contact with everyone. On the other hand, it can be the ultimate time waster as I scroll and click and browse and watch.  In many ways it is information overload to my already saturated brain. And after I finish scrolling, I rarely feel uplifted; it is more common for my heart to feel heavy as I see the parts of people’s lives that they want me to see: the pristine homes, the trendy clothes, the vacations, the new purchases, the perfect day. I am often left sighing about what I don’t have or can’t do or won’t see. This does nothing to add to a serene home or a peaceful heart.

I also feel a pressure to post. If it’s Instagram, I feel like I need to post every day with a million hashtags so that I will boost my following. I find myself comparing my following with others or my pictures with others and there I go again with feeling dissatisfied. There seems to be an element of social status on Instagram; if you don’t have a cool feed then you won’t have a large following and if you don’t have a large following you’re not cool. With Facebook, there’s an element of social obligation. People are friends because they want to know what’s going on in my life and if I’m not posting regularly I’m letting them down.

I realize that I could be reading a lot into this and I may also be stepping on some toes by broaching this subject. I also know that there is a growing frustration with social media. We are seeing that it does eat up much of our time – time that could be spent reading a book, playing a game, writing a letter, making a phone call or (*gasp*) stepping outside our front door and striking up a face-to-face conversation with someone.   People long for authenticity and let’s face it, that’s hard to come by on social media. People long for community, but we have to admit that the community found on social media is shallow and impersonal – you can’t borrow an egg from a friend on Facebook; you need a neighbor for that.

What it comes down to is that we fear invisibility and insignificance. We want our voices to be heard and our thoughts to count. On our accounts we are the center of the virtual universes we create; our followers see what we want them to and if we don’t like their comments we can delete them. It is not so easy in a live conversation on our front porches, is it? But truthfully, that is where true relationships and true change comes about: in person. When I weigh out a quick peek on Facebook with reading a story to my kids, which choice will have the lasting impact? And what will benefit my children the most, seeing me typing out a political post that they can’t even read yet or listening me engage in a thoughtful conversation about worldview at the dinner table?

The sands of time are sliding, ever sliding. I am seeking to maximize each minute: in conversation, in correspondence with individuals, and in lingering without the distraction of thinking about what I’ll say on my next Facebook post.  How we spend our time is a personal issue between us and our Maker. I know that many in my readership seek to use social media as a platform for sharing Christ’s truth with the world; I applaud and am grateful for their efforts. Personally, as I spend less time on social media I am  finding more free time than I expected and am now seeking to invest this time into individual people rather than the masses.

How would you rate the benefit of having social media in your life? Could those benefits be gleaned from other sources as well?

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Just One More Step of Faith

Does faith come easy to you? Does your implicit trust in Jesus overwhelm those dogged emotions of anxiety, doubt and fear? Is your faith stronger than your exhaustion at the end of a wearying day or the endless waiting game life likes to play with you?

My eldest daughter (who is newly 3) loves her room and her big girl bed that is filled with cozy blankets and snuggly stuffed animals. She has a string of pretty lights woven through the headboard of her bed. She naps beautifully in her bed and is ready to be tucked in at night; but around 1:00am every. single. morning she wakes with a fright and nothing will appease her except sleeping on the floor in her Poppa and Mama’s room. Every night we assure her that she is safe, that her room is cozy, that we are just a few steps away and that she can stay in her big girl bed ALL night long. To no avail.

At times my faith is like that. When other people are struggling, I have faith that Jesus will see them through. When my eyes are wide open, I can clearly see that God is good and trustworthy. But when the darkness of a difficult time closes in around me and my emotions are in a turmoil or if if I am facing a new circumstance, my trust in the Almight God slips away. The only thing I can do is fly to Him and plead for reassurance; I want something tangible to hold on to in order to know that He is really there.

His patience is everlasting. Just like our door continually opens to our little girl, every. single. night. Jesus opens His arms to me. There are times when the answer isn’t immediate; I think in those moments He is building my faith. But then again, we don’t always rush to the door either. We encourage her to wait a little bit for her to see that returning to her safe room is a viable option. But, closed door or not, the love remains. And it is the same with my Savior. Even when I can’t see Him or feel Him, even when He makes me wait, His love is strong and faithful.

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It’s Been a While

I’ve strayed a bit from my 2018 goal of blogging twice a week, haven’t I? Lately I have been preoccupied with “finding myself”: my writing self, my married self, my mommy self, my friend self, my (fill in the blank) self.  There’s been a lot going on with the extras piled on to the daily responsibilities. My husband continues to travel; our youngest was recently dedicated to Jesus; we had delightful house guests for the past 11 days; Thanksgiving; Christmas planning. You know, the usual busy – no more or less crazy than your life is, I’m sure.

But in the midst of it all I found myself getting extra impatient with small (and big) mishaps; I grew weary of interrupted sleep; I was angry at all the things I couldn’t get done; I resented the clutter; I was humiliated that my visitors were seeing the real side of my family in all its chaotic, noisy, smelly, messy glory.  I felt a bit hypocritical at our son’s dedication where we were promising, before witnesses, to raise him in a way that pointed him to Jesus. I want to live Jesus for my husband, kids, neighbors, friends, neighbors and strangers every single day, but as of late I’ve been falling far too short. And so, I’ve been withdrawing from many things in order to determine what is necessary in each of the selves that make up who I am called to be. It’s easy to go through the motions of living and not be connecting to who you are in the midst of it.

What is necessary is a peaceful heart and a restful mind. I need to allow room for the unexpected extras. I need time to move at a toddler’s pace. I need ears that are eager to listen to chattering preschoolers who have very busy minds. I need a heart that savors the repetitive responsibilities that come with a home and family. I need expectations that match this season that is mine.  It’s a slow season that moves all too quickly; an exhausting season that energizes the soul; a painful season that refines and sanctifies; a hands full, heart fuller, blessed season that may appear to last forever but is really only temporary.  With Christ’s help I will identify my priorities for this season so that at it’s close I will have no regrets. It’s

With that said, I still plan to take some time each day to do things that decompress and refresh my own mind and spirit. These include daily devotions and reading, as well as weekly correspondence and blogging. I truly hope that you will be hearing more from me than you have in the past few months.  Thank you for sticking with me in silences. Happy belated Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas season!

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MIA

Don’t you just love the tail in the picture? LOL! This photo captures a rare moment of stillness in my home. I’ve been wanting to return to my normal blogging routine for quite some time now; the topic ideas are piling up in my brain but when I sit down to type I just don’t have the energy to operate brain and fingers at the same time.

If anyone has tips on how to stay on top of meals, bare bones housecleaning, laundry, two preschoolers, a headstrong toddler, a baby giant who is ALWAYS hungry, and puppy training, please share them with me. I am going from sunup until well past sundown trying to accomplish all the must-do’s while squeezing in a few want-to’s like a blog or a chat with a friend or reading a page in ANNE OF AVONLEA.

My husband is presently in a season of much travel so that adds an additional strain to an already an intense time. But in all this I cling to my new motto: THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH! He has provided; He equips; He will sustain.

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