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Embracing growth

embracing growth_blog

Day 19

Today I had a significant opportunity for growth.  That moment when you realize something you really knew all along. It can be something you had not been ready to acknowledge or say hello to, or it can be that the scales are gone and you now see clearly what you once missed.  These moments are graciously planned at just the right time.  At times we aren’t emotionally ready for the revelation.  Only God knows when we are ready to face the truth.

The orchid in the picture above is a beautiful representation.  It was a birthday gift many months ago. The flower buds lasted for a good while as they usually do. Then, eventually all the flower petals were gone. Several green leaves remained, but other than that, the plant looked sparse. I carefully tended to it even when it appeared to be lacking life.  Then one day a new leaf appeared, then another, and another.  The growth has been steady and strong.  The new leaves look very healthy.  I know the flower buds are still far away, yet I am encouraged by the growth I have witnessed so far.

So it is with us, how much we grow is dependent on many factors.  Even when we can’t see much happening on the surface of ourselves or others, take heart and know that there may be a whole world of growth taking place underneath.




Posted in 31 Days- Embrace Every Part

Embracing time (or lack thereof)


How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? ~Dr. Suess

Day 18

Time.  We measure it in years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes. We all get the same 24 hours in a day.  But it really doesn’t feel like it sometimes does it?

You see your friends accomplish much more than you could dream of in their daily cycle.  You think, how do they do it?  How is there a home-made meal on the table every night in that house?  Or how is it that they have a glistening kitchen floor every time you stop by?

We can’t wait for Friday but then hope Monday won’t come too soon.  We count down the days to our vacation but then hope it won’t fly by.  Time has a way of passing and we can’t make it slow down or stop for even one minute.

Between work, parenting, household chores, errands, socializing with family and friends, etc. our lives are very busy.  My mom has always said, “life is about choices” and I feel that swirling around in my head a lot lately. It is very true, we all have choices to make every day.  Especially about how we spend our time.

We all compare, it’s just natural.  We compare brands of cereal at the market and choose which to purchase. We compare restaurants and choose which to dine in, parks and decide which to visit, and on and on. But, remember, just because you choose one thing and a neighbor or friend chooses another when it comes to how we spend our time, you never know what the other gives up when making that choice.

I am a believer in quality over quantity when it comes to time.  Some say they may not spend a large quantity of time doing this or that but the time they do spend is quality time.  The problem with that theory, or at least in my experience, is that quality time cannot really be planned.  Occasionally what we plan and expect to be quality time ends up not going over well and when we least expect it a beautiful, memorable moment appears and we had nothing to do with it.

When I had very young kids and couldn’t accomplish as much as I wanted, I would always be encouraged knowing that each diaper I changed, each load of dishes I completed was actually an act of worship.  My kitchen sink throne- that’s what I called it in my mind.  The place where I would stand and pray and listen to God speak to me while my hands completed the daily necessities.

Embrace your gift of time.  We can’t do everything we wish to do each day, but we can choose to do what fills our hearts and souls and that will always bless those around us.

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Embracing the unexpected

The unexpected…. it is just that; not expected, or considered, or thought of.  The unexpected just suddenly shows up when you are going about your daily business.  It happened to me a lot this week.  So much that I started to worry it wouldn’t stop, that something really bad might happen. Anticipating the proverbial “other shoe” and completely expecting it to drop.

During my “terrible, no good, very bad week” it seemed like a lot.  In the first few hours under the dark cloud, I opened a large heavy door on my foot at a commercial building (yeow!), twisted my ankle at a school field, tore one of my favorite shirts on a bolt sticking out of a pole in my work parking lot and then had an issue with the security alarm.  The next day I flooded my garage via my front load washer at 10:30pm at night (don’t ask), which was followed by the discovery of fleas on my pristine little dog the next morning.  And the last issue just about threw this semi-ocd woman over. the. edge.  Do you feel my pain?

The week continued to barrel on with one person crashing another persons car which is so complicated all names have been removed to protect the innocent.  It was not one of our family of drivers or vehicles so, phew, thank you Jesus for small miracles.  The week came to a close with a stack of work both at home and office that would make even the most can-do person drop to their knees.

Embrace it?  Are you kidding?  Nope, I’m not.  When we learn to embrace every part we acknowledge that His ways our higher than ours.  We acknowledge that there may be the beautiful, the difficult, the uncomfortable, the utterly ridiculous, but also the opportunity for growth and grace.  The opportunity and gift that comes from getting to the end of ourselves so we can rely completely and solely on the the Lord and his mercy.

I know what I have shared here is nothing compared to the suffering some are enduring right now.  There are many who are in financial ruin, have family members struggling with serious illness, and relationships that are crumbling.  No one is immune from the harsh realities of life on this earth that is not our home.

One thing I notice, one thing I see, is that life goes on, time does not stop. In the morning, the birds are still singing.  The sun still rises and the day progresses.  It may just be that the next unexpected thing you embrace may be a wonderful surprise.  For me, the week ended with a few unexpected moments with a cherished friend that lifted my spirits just by the handful of minutes I was able to spend with her.  You see, it was unexpected.  And I completely embraced it.

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  ~Lamentations 3:22-23


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Embracing Rest


Embracing Rest


Day 12: Embracing Rest

As I thought about how to approach this post about rest, I was reminded about how much we really need it.  Free-time has become an antiquated notion.  Do you remember being asked, “so what do you like to do in your free time” at a social function?  I have probably just dated myself, but I think this is an important thought.  We used to assume that fellow human beings had alloted “free time”, but now that seems to be wishful thinking.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, expectations of our response to contact; either by phone, texts, emails, etc. is almost instantaneous now.  Multi-tasking is a word that is so overused that is almost seems passe and just a way of working through the day (even though some research shows that no one can really multitask, but that is a conversation for another time).

So rest and free-time; we don’t automatically have it, we have to schedule it, guard it, demand it.  And guess what?  Someone or something will have to wait- even if just for a bit (some things that can’t wait, like a hungry child or a sick family member that needs you).  Some feel that if you stop and take time to smell the roses, read a book for leisure, take a nap, or just take time for yourself there will be a tidal wave of to-do’s to catch up on post-rest.  Of course this may seem extreme, and it may be for a brief rest, but it is very real for those taking just a week-long vacation.

So, how do we embrace rest?  Sometimes we just have to take the time, we need to schedule it in, we have to take time to remember that we are human beings, not human doings.  We need to understand that we can be more productive with times of rest and rejuvenation built-in.  It’s like the instructions on an airplane; you have to give yourself oxygen first, before you can assist others.  One final thought is this, when everything becomes urgent, then nothing really is.

I have always loved these few verses that are so well-known about rest for the weary, but I was amazed at how beautiful and amplified they were in the Message.

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  

~Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (italics added)

 Embracing Rest_photo

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Embracing adversity

31days_photo day 9

Adversity has a sting, and then a heaviness that can weigh us down.  The weight can be so strong that we can barely look up.  Everyone in this life faces adversity from time to time.  And, it’s all relative.  What one walks through another could not fathom, and the reverse.  It is wonderful that we are never given more than we can handle.

So, how do we embrace adversity when we are in the middle of the storm? Deep thoughts and encouraging verses can be a sweet salve, but do they get right in?  Right into the depths of our souls that need the covering?

Edgar Allen Poe said, “never to suffer would never to have been blessed.”  I believe that is a profound statement.  The problem is believing it and acknowledging all the good while we are suffering in the mire and muck.

I don’t have the answer, I can only share what I have learned through various trials in my own life.

  • It won’t always be this way, this too shall pass.  Ask yourself if you are in the same place you were x number of years ago.  When we crave different circumstances our view forward is not as clear as the road behind us.  Nine times out of ten there will have been progress.
  • It hasn’t always been this way, just look through some photos from better seasons.  If you aren’t visual, listen to some music that evokes a memory of a joyful time.  Even your sense of smell can bring up memories of blessed events- make your favorite childhood recipe.
  • Most importantly, lean into the Lord, remember that He will never forsake us.  Give thanks in ALL circumstances.  This may be very hard, but have faith.  Remember that Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see ~ Hebrews 11:1
  • Share your struggles and pain with a trusted confidant.  Bringing all the yuck into the light removes some of its power to cast darkness over our hearts.  We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  ~ Romans 5: 3-5
  • Remember that you are loved deeply.  Love yourself and treat yourself with an extra dash of TLC.

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.  In fact, it may be necessary to encounter defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.  

~Maya Angelou




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Embracing your dreams

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her would be accomplished!                  Luke 1:45
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her would be accomplished!
Luke 1:45

Do you ever get so focused on all the roadblocks in your life that you just stop and settle?  You don’t even look for the detour.  You may not even realize that you have settled or packed your dreams away. Over time, one by one we put them on a shelf for later. They begin to gather dust, and then little by little the current and present tasks get placed in front of them and block your view.  They become forgotten, moved to the mental “someday” file, or perhaps just given up on.

It may be that your now is so full and overwhelming that it seems like things will never change, slow down, or get better.  You make plans to get caught up on the laundry, clean out the garage, build that model or dollhouse with your children.  But let’s be honest, how often do we plan to get caught up on the pursuit of our dreams?

We can also become so obsessed or fixated on our desires that at times we become bitter or jealous when things don’t turn out our way or in our timing.  Maybe your friend or family member achieved/received something you wished for and she didn’t even have it on her list.  And maybe she doesn’t appear to appreciate it or care that it happened or that it is there. You see, we all have a different list, what is a dream come true for one is a burden to another.  The best part is, this makes our world a lot more interesting.  Sometimes, when I stop striving or just get busy with other things, God not only reminds me of a dream and desire I once had, but he brings it forward in the act of blessing and fulfillment.  Those moments just blow me away!

So, what are the desires of your heart?  Do you remember? If so, can you embrace them?  Can you gather them up and dust them off- say hello to that part of your life.  Just try, even if just for a moment, even if they are so far from where you are.  Breathe some life into them again, even if it is just awakening the thoughts that you have had desires, dreams, and goals that may not be in the forefront of your mind.

Someone once told me that we are our truest selves when we are 9 years old. That really stuck with me. This person had just met one of my children and inquired about their age and then told them that this was true. I am not sure what this thought is based on, but if you can imagine it for a moment it may hold some truth.  At 9 years old we have what some may say are childish desires- the sky high kind, the kind that don’t require planning (how?) or reasoning (why?). Our 9 year old self is not intimidated by what others think and I would say our desires are pure.  Nine year olds also have (usually) not been jaded by this tough world we live in, one of hard breaks and disappointments.

If you need help with drawing up your dreams and desires, think of your nine year old self and see if any memories arise.  What did you want to do “when you grew up”?  If you have dreams that are always there and occupy your heart often, how can you reconcile the wait?  Do you have faith that dream will come true?  Can you embrace the dream?

I have been praying for one of the greatest desires of my heart to come true for 18 years.  I feel that the Lord promised it to me years ago and I know He is faithful and will do it.  What I don’t know is the how and when, so I embrace the dream.  I am encouraged by knowing that He is in control.  That I can count on Him.  That I can embrace every part.


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Embracing interruptions

Day 4 and 5 (oops and 6)

I require quiet, uninterrupted time to write, actually to accomplish quite of few of my tasks.  It is the way I am built; I prefer a peaceful and tidy environment to do my best work.  I also live on earth, in a family home, in fairly typical household; hubby, kids, dog.  So quiet, tidy, and uninterrupted times aren’t part of my daily reality.  I tend to stay up too late just to accomplish a few extra things just like most moms I know.  Still…

Interruptions are part of life.  EVERY. DAY.  It is easy to get frustrated by interruptions.  In our world, where we are expected to respond to a myriad of communications almost instantaneously it can be difficult to go five minutes without an interruption.  We are cycling faster and faster with no end in sight.  We have gone from a society of phone calls and letters, to facsimiles and pagers, to mobile phones and emails, to texting and face time.  It is “virtually” impossible to get away for any length of time- pun intended.  It is causing a level of weariness our souls weren’t built to handle.  It is causing a deep down exhaustion from an unsustainable pace that begs for a break.  That pace can put any well-meaning human over the edge when faced with even the tiniest interruption.

Last week, I planned to take the day off (= work from home) one day.  I was looking forward to my day; kids in school, husband out for the day, and me at. home. ALONE. Just that thought makes me giddy- all the possibilities and all mine to make without any interruptions, right?  Well, wrong.  Apparently the dog had been thinking the same thing and demanded my attention by multiple interruptions by his poor behavior.  It ended up being ok, but I was once again reminded of my issue with interruptions which I believe is closely tied to expectations.  Even if we don’t think we have high expectations (we are told to lower our expectations and then hope to surprised when they are exceeded, right?) they are there, hiding in the grey matter.

So how do we deal with interruptions?  Can we EMBRACE them?! If so, how?  I believe we can.  If we build enough time into our day and learn to create a mindful system of boundaries, as well as a mental (or written) check list of what really constitutes an interruption.  We can learn to say no to some, or not now, but later.  We can blend expectations with interruptions with guard rails for a beautiful equation.  If we do not book every moment of the day with a jam-packed schedule, we can lean into interruptions-to living in the moment- to being there right at the exact moment your friend needs you.  And you didn’t expect it, plan it, or schedule it, but it did felt good.  You EMBRACED the interruption.

Many interruptions are worthy of our full attention, no matter what we are doing we drop everything to attend to these.  These may be welcomed and may not even be defined as such.  Some of our greatest and most worthwhile accomplishments probably interrupted what we were doing at the moment- the baby on the way, the wonderful news of a family or friend’s engagement, etc.

We can EMBRACE and look forward to interruptions that deepen our relationships with family, draw us closer in community, make us reflect on what is really important.  Who knows, we may just completely change our definition of interruptions, choosing not to include the moments of life that cannot wait until later, that must be lived now, that call us to the present- oh what a gift.  Maybe these are not interruptions after all.

And here we are… Embracing every part.

P.S.  My perfectionist side and I had a battle and the embracing part won!  I was planning to make up the last few days where I was unable to write, it weighed on me heavily.  But now I am moving forward, not as a failure, but with good intentions and grace.  Looking at my “interruptions” in writing as a life lived and played out.  Plans were made, but ultimately I chose to focus on the lives of those who count on me (and not count them as interruptions).  So I may not get an A+ in this challenge, but I am still in the game. xo

Posted in 31 Days- Embrace Every Part

Embracing flight- the emptier nest

Day 3

The nest- the first gathering place, a safe fortress from the world.  An incubator for growth and development in a protected environment.  At one time they are all planted in the bottom of the nest, looking up for the next worm, for direction and guidance.  Next they stand up and peek over the edge, then spread and prepare their own wingspan for a soon to be flight into freedom and responsibility.  Then one flies away and is soaring fairly well- comes back for winter breaks and summer rejuvenation.  All the while, others are clambering to get their turn, dangling over the edge, making your heart stop.  Still some are sprouting before your eyes, slowly moving past things of the youngest, creeping into wavering definitions of self and others while exploring bigger boundaries.  All of this is beautiful and wonderful, part of a master plan.

I have always been amused by the saying that describes parenting as “the longest days and the shortest years” and I can attest: it is true my friends, so true.  I have been blessed with children that are all about 5 years apart in school and age, give or take a few months.  As you can imagine, at any given time, our household has children that are all on different levels of the human development spectrum.  It makes for a wildly diverse emotional landscape at times.  It also makes the mind, heart, and soul expand to see how we grow and interact within our own little village in the home and the world as a whole.  It is fascinating!  Until you get lost in the little, the tiny, the insignificant.  And the crazy thing is, those things that are little, tiny, and insignificant one day, become microscopic as the days move ahead and pages of the calendar turn faster.

At this point in time I have one in college, one in high school, and one in elementary school.  Tomorrow the “baby” will be turning 10- double digits baby!!  It is wonderful- and it is bittersweet.  You see,  I don’t expect an empty nest.  With the oldest and youngest almost 10 years apart, I expect it to be quieter, but never silent.  And time will still tell… But, I am surprised at myself, surprised at how hard it is to have my youngest little reach milestones that leave no more.  You know, the feeling you get when your first, second, and on up reach a milestone- the first smile, giggle, tooth, step, bike ride, lead role, etc.  THAT feeling- it is that feeling except in reverse.  I have no more who are in diapers (yay!) no more in kindy, no more writing in cursive for the first time.  In fact, some of my firsts are no more.  But, I embrace it (and some days mourn it)!

So tomorrow I am going to enjoy the celebration, it may be the last of my single digit aged kiddos, but it won’t be the last birthday celebration. There will be many more to come, maybe leaving some “firsts” behind, but certainly opening up wide the gates for many more “firsts” on the horizon. My nest may be emptier, but my life is growing fuller as I seek to discover the place my heart feels content- enjoying the memories, focusing and living in the present, anticipating tomorrow, all the while embracing every part.

Fully embracing every part.