on golden things

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There are things about my life that sometimes rub raw. To be honest, in these places, I’m always pinky-tender with the reluctance and freedom of surrender.

I wish we owned our own home. One where I could pick things like countertops and appliances and carpet, especially where the carpet goes. And I wish we could have grass instead of dirt. I wish we lived in the suburbs instead of the city, the suburbs where my children could walk or ride their bikes without me.

I wish my husband didn’t have to work on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve and Memorial Day. I wish that sometimes he didn’t get midnight calls. Even though I know about what he does. About how much just being there for a child who has been abandoned in heart or in body or in circumstance means. I know what it means. There is only one Water that can fill those dry wells.

And even as I am wishing. I know. I know that everyone wishes. That everyone is uncomfortable. That everyone is pinky-tender with the reluctance and freedom of surrender. And I know, too. I know, being a child of the 80s, that nothing gold can stay. Pony Boy was my favorite in 8th grade when I had braces and bouffant bangs and dreams bigger than my paper heart could hold. And I know now that I don’t decide what is golden, those things so hard to hold that make a life shine bright. Gold isn’t wishes and might’ve beens. Gold is today. The rough and the raw.

There is a baseball field on the campus where we live. It’s right behind the church where Truth goes out to bottomless well-hearts. The lines aren’t as straight but just this weekend my husband took our boys over to play ball. The girl child and I stayed back where I started laundry and swept and put things straight. It felt good for just a minute to sweep away crumbs and tiny pieces of dirt.

And when it was time to clean up and bed down, I didn’t call. I walked the 50 short steps and I stopped right behind the church. The sun was casting filtered light-yes, golden-through the tree behind me. I cupped my hands and I yelled down the alley behind that church and I called home. There was a warm breeze and I wondered. I wondered, who am I to say that this right here is not as golden as can be.

on finding what’s in the middle

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In January I excised a fairly large portion of who I have been for the past four years.

At times it has felt like I would never be finished with the cutting away, sure that it would go on and on.

I’m still under the knife.

Lately, I’ve found something unwelcome in the space where there used to be success in measurables.

Insecurity.

I knew that I would lean in to writing. But it’s sort of like a specialized tumor removing surgery. You have to keep going back until you get all of it and I have struggled with feeling very small.

Like I don’t have much of importance to say.

This is change. Change cuts away all of the self dependance and all of your standing firm on what you can do until you rest in what is really true. Until you know exactly what your story is. And it doesn’t start with you.

Sometimes the only way out of the insecurity is to walk right through it. To let it be the laser edge to your change blade, making you question why you’re in this thing in the first place.

Here’s the thing. You feel insecure? You’re not alone. Use it. Use it to discover exactly what your story is and why you need to tell it and when you need to tell it and how you need to tell it.

And then do it. Don’t avoid. Don’t pretend that you don’t care because you are afraid. Don’t rush your turn. Be patient. Maybe you have to let things dwindle first, be cut away. When you get to the good and real and honest stuff, then you tell your story.

I have been doing my fair share of walking through and watching the dwindle and surrendering to the knife. I’ve had to let go of plans. I’ve had to say no. But, I think that I am beginning to see the bright light at the middle of my own story.

The unfurling is beginning and I’m so happy to share it with you.

But what about you? What does insecurity do to you? Change? Maybe you have some encouragement for others. Share if you’d like!

who says

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It’s Sunday night and my husband is at the grocery store for me.

He offered. I gladly accepted.

It’s quiet here. And I was thinking about you. About today. Today I wore a dress that my mama bought me. It’s long and flowy and navy blue. And I wore dainty jewelry and braided sandals.

I wore my hair up and to the side.

There’s just something about feeling beautiful. Not perfect. Just lovely.

I wanted to take a picture of it. But I was worried that you might not think I was beautiful. Even though you are loving and wonderful and I’m so glad for each one of you.

I really care that you think I’m beautiful. And then I remembered something I had shared in church this morning. In church where we are talking about how deeply grace cuts and how completely grace heals. That healing cut, you know?

Last Wednesday found me in the Atlanta airport. In one of those lose the battle and win the war moments, I was shuffling through all the traveling bodies searching for milk.

I’ve been doing some real work on my heart and how I eat and what I eat and how I work my body and I was feeling good. I had on my favorite flowy tank top and my most favorite worn in jeans. They were rolled up just so. I felt comfortable in my skin.

Until I looked over and there was this perfectly beautiful, awesome, I’m-sure-she-bakes-cookies-and-runs-5-miles-everyday-and-keeps-her-house-spotless-and-look-at-her-adorable-outfit woman. She was really pretty.

My shoulders slumped under the weight of feeling very homely next to her loveliness.

But. And I believe this was the Lord. A question whispered by me.

Who says? Who says that I’m not beautiful, too?

It was the loudest whisper I’ve ever heard, still filling my ears with it’s wooshing and rustling up my heart.

The One who is a Master at forming and who lovingly whistled sweet songs over me as He looped and stitched me together? He is who decides on beauty. So I walked a little straighter. And I took this picture even though I hate pictures of myself because I never feel pretty in them and I worry that others will look at all my faults. Also I forgot to put lipstick on.

Brick by brick. Brick by brick He is starting to rebuild my undoing.

Edit: I so appreciate all of your sweet comments. I am going to receive them without swatting them away because I know the heart you gave them in. But. I hope, too, that wherever you feel homely or burdened by comparison you hear this whisper louder than any other thing.

dear you.

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This is a letter to you young moms.

Sometimes I like to think that I am still a young mom. But I think I am really a youngish mom. There’s no crib in my house. No diapers. No bottles. No diaper bag. No regular nap schedule. I don’t even have any sippy cups.

So I want to say something to you as someone who is almost both feet into the school age years. Your life will change.

Where you are right now? It’s physically exhausting. It’s late night feedings and blowouts. It’s early morning breakfasts and morning naps. It’s temper tantrums. It’s “No touch” over and over again until you start to think about how funny touch sounds and then you realize it’s time for dinner and you don’t think you can stand up one more minute. It’s opposite napping schedules. It’s carrying the world’s biggest bag with a million compartments but somehow you still can’t find the wipes when you need them.

It’s also baby smiles and dimples. It’s being able to rest your little one in your lap because he doesn’t come up to your shoulders. It’s not stinky shoes yet. It’s sweet, sweet baby breath and that first smile that you make yourself a fool over so you can see it again.

It won’t always be this tiring on your body. Soon, your work will be the work of the heart. And, that? Well. It’s tough stuff. But the physical makes way for the emotional.

So. How do you find the restart to your day when every minute seems taken up with meeting needs?

1. You take what you can get. Maybe there is a natural break in your day. Mine is right before my older two get home from school. Here’s how I know it’s ripe for hitting the refresh: I’m plumb wore out. I want to rush out of everything. I’m ready to check out and looking for anything to fill me up. Also. It’s when I get yell-y. Unredeemed, that time looks like me running after a bunch of things (hello, internet) that can’t really fill me up so that when it’s time to be focused, I’m restless.  Maybe it’s naptime for you or mid-morning or just any old time.

2. But maybe you have to take what you can make. If it’s fifteen minutes while one is sleeping and the other one is watching tv, you can make that time listen to you. Maybe you lay on the couch. Maybe you find a quiet corner and read or stare or try to get the oatmeal out of your hair. Maybe it’s while you are washing dishes and you play some kind of music good and loud.

3. Whatever you get, take it and be thankful for it. Fifteen minutes spent wishing they were thirty instead  is not life giving. Five minutes can be enough if they are used wisely. Know what gives you life and what is just a band-aid for your restless heart. Treating the symptoms is not the same as treating the cause.

4. Don’t aim for perfection. Starting a new day in your heart and mind does not have to look the same everyday. When you feel about to give out, press in. Start over. However you can. For me, the goal of starting a Second (or more) Day is to be present, not to be perfect. I’m trying to use that time to do two things: eliminate things that would distract me from being present and refresh my heart and mind so that I can be focused on my children. I don’t always get to do both things. I certainly don’t get to do them perfectly. And sometimes? I have to put my head down and push through. But, usually I can find at least five minutes to step away and focus back on what’s important.

Here’s the thing. Right there in the midst of your hands-on, scheduled out kind of days, I want you to know that I see you. And I want you to know that I see the light for you. I believe for you that even if your day is overwhelming and exhausting and full to the brim, there is redeeming and refreshing available to you.

Edit: As a sweet friend was sharing something with me, I realized there was another thought to be borne out in this process. Parenting will always be hard and sharpening and unexpected. There may be seasons or circumstances that go seemingly unchanged. That battle? For heart change when the externals don’t? It’s even more important. Sometimes hard things stay but God’s refreshing stays even longer.

Full disclosure: this is a picture I took of a vintage photo I found.

the beauty of your second day

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That breaking moment in the midst of your day? Can I pour something healing and wonderful down over it?

It’s called your Second Day and my beautifully hearted friend Jessi taught me about it.

At the very moment when you are just about to give out but your day calls for you to give more, make a shift. Start your Second Day.

Apply it this way: Back up a few minutes. I shoot for 30. Or 60 on a really, really everything is right in the world day.

Split your back up time in half. First, do some things that bring you peace and prepare you for what is next. I try to do as many as I can of those everyday things that suck life and marrow out of me if they are left undone. You know the drill. Dishes. Tidying. Clean off the desktop. Write that email. Do whatever it is you do with that pesky spreadsheet (I don’t know because I am one of those weirdo right brained people). What you want is to trick your mind into thinking that things are fresh instead of mind tired and frizzled hair feeling. Just trust me.

Now. For the second half. Do something that is only life giving. Maybe you read. Maybe you write. Maybe you pray. Maybe you draw. Maybe you walk. Maybe you listen to music or nothing at all. Maybe you’re an extrovert and you do extroverty things (I wouldn’t know because I’m one of those stubborn introverted types). Whatever your thing is that makes you feel full and alive and at rest. Do that thing that speaks to your heart.

And then? Then you start your Second Day.

Shifting like this has brought some kind of fierce refreshing into my day. Oh, there are days where I just put my head down and steamroll through. That’s ok, too. There’s victory there. But the days when I get to walk through my little Second Day rhythm are becoming quite the treasure.

Will you try it? And will you come back here and share about it? I’d love to know.