Minutes Counting Down

It’s July 29th. I’ve had an amazing summer with my family.  We saw Tahoe in June, the mountains covered in snow. We’ve seen a volunteer spaghetti squash plant explode out by the barn and walked Mo, our 6 month Bernedoodle, all over our little town. We’ve slept in and ran on the beach, we’ve pulled weeds and seen friends. I’ve traveled to Costa Rica, serving the people of Talamanca and learned to cook killer food, Tico style. I saw a wild sloth in the jungle, I think I could learn a thing or two about slowing down from that amazing little critter. We hugged Tobey goodbye as he took his first trip as a camper to Hume Lake.

And then I’ve been writing… and writing and writing. Not chapters, those come easy. This is the proposal, basically convincing an agent and a publisher that they should take a leap of faith and publish my book. The first plans of my self-given deadline passed in June and now August 1st is quickly approaching. There’s something about two half-grown kids at home that makes getting anything done a challenge. The hope was to submit my proposal and sample chapters to the four interested agents I met at the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference.  I have exactly two and a half days to wrap it all up, present this dream of mine into a pretty little package.

It’s scary… and exciting all at the same time. And I second guess myself, my motives and how exactly God would want me to go about it… what’s the best way to make His name known. So thank you for letting me take a break from marketing plan ideas and my list of potential endorsers to just write what’s in my heart. And wish me luck to make my deadline this time, the minutes are counting down.

Would you do me a favor? Share with me your thoughts on the books you read. Do you find yourself more drawn to memoir or a Christian living book? Baby Grace is on the fence between these two genres, I’d love your input.

IMG_2366

Sabbatical… Amazing!

It’s been such a fabulous 4 months … I should have written a post but frankly I just have been enjoying myself so much that the time has slipped away.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about here’s the jist of it.  I left my job at Sports Warehouse in November, just in time to celebrate the one year mark of my brain surgery.  Josh, the killer man that he is, and I decided that I needed a break from all manners of work to rest and figure out what God has next for me.

So 2017 is my year to do just that and I’m off to a great start!  In January my mom moved to Texas, handing down her upholstery business to me.  It’s been great, not too much work and I’m having so much fun.  Josh was worried that acquiring a new business is the opposite of rest, but really it has been a breath of fresh air.  I’m also working on a new project … a book!  It’s so weird to say that, but I guess I need to say it louder until it doesn’t feel weird anymore.

It’s a project about weariness and how God can use it for good.  It is the inside look at my life and brain surgery and how rest is found in the baby graces all around us.  I’m getting ready to attend a writer’s conference in April, ready to learn all I can. I can’t wait to see what God will do with it.

With writing every day and walking along the beach and seeing God goodness all over the place I’ve been so busy resting.  I didn’t expect to be so exhausted, I guess rest is not about doing less but doing more in your deep places.  It’s been amazing!

You all have been such a huge support to me and I thank you so much!

Season One – "Christmas At Plum Creek"

Every Christmas we watch the two Little House Christmas episodes, it’s become a tradition.  This year we had a dear family over to watch with us, which was a real treat!  I cannot make it through this episode without longing for the simple days of Christmas.  I laugh at the Ingalls all in the mercantile, tiptoeing around trying to figure out what to get each other.  If only Christmas could be this simple right?  One store to shop, decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, shoot the turkey and make some pies.  Each member of the family, doing what they can to show the great love they have for each other, for the Ingalls it meant sacrifice and creativity and a lot of work.

Over the years we have simplified Christmas, trying to keep it true and pure in all that it should be.  But it is easy to get caught up in all the hype and gifts and internet ordering and lose sight of the ultimate reason to celebrate.  I love how Carrie gets it, spends her only penny on a present for Baby Jesus.  It’s his birthday after all!!  The innocent, searching eyes of Carrie … looking up at the star, like it’s the only thing that really matters.  God willing to come down to earth to be with us, in the most humble form because he loves us!  I never want to lose sight of this, never stop lifting my eyes up to see the star of Christmas as the one thing that it’s really all about.

Season One – "The Lord Is My Shepherd"

There is so much I could say about this episode, so many ways I could go. The direction I’m going is take is maybe because it’s been so true for me these last few months. Of all the tidbits of truth conveyed in this two part show my favorite line is from Jonathan, the angel sent to watch over Laura on the mountain. He says “Tears make things come alive again.”

When I think of tears, either seeing someone cry or crying myself, it’s usually not tears of joy. (Although I was at a wedding this last weekend where there were a lot of happy tears being shed by the groom, but that is besides the point.) The tears I usually think of are tears of pain, betrayal, loss. It’s our bodies natural way to deal with grief or disappointment or sadness. Why is it that sometimes it just feels so good to cry?  In a way it is an emptying of our hearts of all that is weighing us down or the overflow of joy that cannot be contained.

I’m a cried, it comes easy to me.  I can see a commercial or movie or any given Little House episode and get a little misty with emotion if it hits a cord in me, some reminder of a deeper issue.  The olympics are the worst … The personal stories of overcoming great obstacles get me every time. I always thought I was overly emotional, wearing my heart on my sleeve … but I think really it’s more than that. Maybe I’m dealing with my heart issues through my tears, because I refuse to actually address them myself?  I researched a little about the reasons we cry, over and over again the findings were inconclusive.  In the end, just a lot of hunches but the idea of catharsis kept coming up.  (I had to google it just to get a clear definition so I knew what they were talking about.)  It was defined as a purifying or cleansing of emotions, in a sense your bodies attempt to elevate your mood.

Sometimes tears just lead to more tears, and other times they lead to life. How can we use our tears to help us move on, move on to what is next?  This past year I’ve shed a lot of tears, more than I thought was possible. Some tears were from pain, some from being misunderstood and some because I didn’t know what else to do. Have you been there?  I know that my tears at times have not moved me forward. So this next year I’ve pledged to work hard at uncovering my deepest hurts and hardest moments.  And it will probably take yet another round of tears to face them head on.  My hope is to cleanse my heart and soul and even my memories of these hurts, so I can be in a place of fully living, alive again. What about you?

Season One – "The Award"

We all make mistakes, we all do things we wish we hadn’t done.  We hide in our shame and regret, hoping we won’t be found out. The crazy thing is that we almost always get caught.  What about the times we are tempted to make a decision that we know is wrong, but choose wisely?  This is when it’s good to be discovered, to take a deep breath knowing it was the right decision.

As a mother, I’m constantly catching my kids in the very act … I’m either proud of them or maybe a little disappointed. I have a decision to make, it is a big one because it will affect how they view themselves and their actions in the future. Caroline was such a fabulous mom … her arms wide open, running towards Mary. No words, just the total embrace of love.

This is how I picture the Father with his arms open to the prodigal son.  We’ve been going through a series called Prodigal God at church. Sounds backwards but prodigal means extravagant or excessive, usually in regards to the wayward son. But here’s the spin on it, God is the Father who is extravagant in his love, excessive in his grace for us. Ready to forgive and welcome us with open arms, running to us even. Ohh how I want that to be me with my precious kids, to have extravagant love, excessive grace. May it be so in me Lord.

Season One – “The Voice of Tinker Jones"

The quiet Tinker Jones. We don’t know much about him …he doesn’t speak, but hears quite well. He’s kind and giving beyond our understanding, wanting to bring people together instead of apart.

In this episode there is an argument among the church members regarding a bell. Yes, you heard right a bell! Wouldn’t a bell be amazing, to ring the people to worship! Nice sure, necessary I’m not so sure. The argument falls over who will pay for it and the plaque honoring the generous donor … What’s the deal with Mrs. Olson always wanting her name on a plaque?  The arguments continue, Reverend Alden is forced to believe that he has torn the congregation in two.  No one is budging

I can’t help but think of our churches encountering these same problems. Disagreement in how things are run, personalities that don’t get along, people being pushed out instead of included, pride. Here we are, the church … God’s chosen vehicle to share his love and we don’t look much different than the world. It’s no wonder, after all the church is made up of people. Sinful, selfish people. Us God-lovers are also lovers of self. We want our way, we want the events we enjoy, the pastors we connect with, the music that draws us into worship. Selfishness destroys and divides.  It’s as ridiculous as wanting your name on a plaque, when it’s all about Jesus… should be all about Jesus!

If the church is made up of imperfect people then what are we to do? How are we to change the future of the church? From the voice of Tinker Jones we learn so much. His voice is not heard, but there is great action, great motivation to bring people together through his kindness. He crafts a bell, with the help of the children of Walnut Grove and through the donations of the townspeople, even though they are unaware of it. He doesn’t say it but his words ring loud and clear that unity is of greater importance than most things. I dare say that unity can be so visible to the world, that they are curious to know how we do it. In John 17:23 “I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”

How on earth do we put up with each other, especially those strong types that want to put their names on a plaque? We won’t always get it right, we are human. But we strive for kindness, to have the voice of Tinker Joes!

 

August 30th- The Burn

I never thought the burning in my lungs was something I would miss … In the past it has meant I was avoiding the trails, but this last weekend it meant I am finally cleared to be back on the trail!  It’s not that I wanted to run so badly, but when you aren’t cleared medically to do something you used to do with ease, it’s the one thing I’ve been dreaming about.

I came back to reality when Sunday night I was hurting… Like every muscle, tendon and ligament screaming at me. Friends, I did not overdo it … I think a snail could have crossed the finish line before me. It has just been a really long time that my body exerted that kind of energy. It felt good … and strange, in my mind like I never stopped training for that half marathon that took place the weekend of my surgery but my body felt so awkward like I’d never ran before.

So needless to say my scan came back good once again … Praise be to Jesus the healer of my brain!  Next scan in 6 months and back to full activity … burn baby burn!

Season One – "School Mom"

I just love this episode… Caroline is so feisty! And yet she also notices the weakness in herself to lose her temper even though we don’t blame her – dealing with the likes of Harriet Oleson!  I love her example and honesty of admitting  that she has let it get the best of her.

I consider myself pretty easy going and I get along with almost everyone, but this episode reminded me of losing my temper just the other day. I was at the pool swimming, while my kids were doing lessons. I was sharing a lane with another gal who was in way better shape than me … To make matters worse it was my first time back in the pool since my brain surgery so I was a little rusty to say the least. Well the Olympic swimmer who I was sharing a lane with, kept running into me … really because she was lapping me. So first off it was making me feel like a loser because I was so slow but then I was thinking … “wait a minute I had brain surgery, it’s amazing I’m even out here!”  After about the 3rd time she ran into me I lost it and asked if we could just each swim on one side so I wouldn’t get in her way. She wanted none of that, “etiquette is to circle swim you know?” My thoughts were “yes I do know that … but etiquette is also to space out, pass with plenty of room and maybe don’t swim the backstroke on someone’s heels!”  It happened one more time and I moved to a different lane.  Anyway long story just to say I lost my temper and just like Ma said “I’m always upset when I lose my temper.”

In fact, it almost ruined my day because I was so disappointed with myself acting that way and letting it get to me so badly. A  few days later I swam again and of course she was there … I didn’t share a lane with her but I wanted to meet her gaze and apologize for losing it. She not once in that hour looked my way or took a breathe facing me. That’s when I knew that she had it even worse than I did. I said a little prayer of peace over her, that her heart could soften enough to admit when we let our tempers get the best of us.

It brings me back to the episode and the words Caroline wrote on the chalkboard …

Compassion

Understanding

Do I have compassion or understanding for those people around me? Even crazy swimmer lady? Even when I feel like I’m not being given compassion or understanding … And I’m the one who really deserves it!  We all have bad days and have to bite our tongues and apologize to complete strangers … And you know what? I think it’s really good for us when we have to do it. It opens our hearts to see that we don’t have it all together, it keeps us humble and reminds us that others have off days as well. I’m keeping my eyes out for my Olympic swimmer friend… If I see her again I know what I need to do!

Season One – "Ma's Holiday"

Are you like Ma? You want to go away on a romantic trip with your hubby or a weekend away with your girlfriends but it’s too hard to leave the kiddos.  Or you are so excited to go, but then once you are there you can’t even enjoy it because you are worried about every little detail back at home?  Do you find yourself constantly texting and sending videos to the kids, checking in on what they had for dinner …  you aren’t really getting your holiday right?

Yes the children will survive … Even with the likes of Mr. Edwards nailing your 3 year old to the roof and serving up rattlesnake stew for dinner.  It’s not that Caroline thought the worse would happen… she just had a hard time not being in control.  As wives and mothers we have such a huge job that it can be challenging to let someone else take care of it, even if for just a few days.

I am a bit of a control freak when it comes down to handling my home, we all have a certain way we do things.  In the past it has been hard to let that all go and really get a holiday … Not just from doing it all but even thinking about it. This is where Ma went wrong!  She couldn’t stop thinking about all the things that needed to be done … And that is what they are, just things to do, things that stress us out and fill our days with worry, even when we aren’t even home to do them.

I can’t complain … I’ve had my share of amazing getaways with Josh, my super handsome hubby!  Most of the time his parents take the kids, sending us off to some fabulous place to relax and enjoy each other.  I really want to be fully present wherever I am, enjoying all the blessings that God has given me to enjoy. I may never have this chance again … to live every day to the fullest.  So go ahead take a Ma holiday and make it better than your first honeymoon!

Season One – "Town Party, Country Party"

Olga has a limp … An obvious defect that has plagued her all her days. She can’t run and play with the other children, she just watches wishing she too could join them. When Laura injures her ankle at Nellie’s birthday party, her and Olga become friends.

Olga has this grace and peace about her … It’s remarkable. She has only kind words to speak about everyone and she is extremely insightful. Her thoughts are compassionate and deep, even Mary doesn’t quite understand when Olga calls Nellie poor. I love her response, “Nellie is poor for she has no happiness inside. You know what’s inside a person by the face they wear.”

She has a point, Nellie is usually scowling. But then I think about it and sometimes my face doesn’t reveal what I’d like it to. I let circumstances and fatigue shine through more than I’d like to admit. A happy heart … a joyful heart, how do we get it back when the hard things of life have grabbed and taken it?  How do we begin living again not fearful, how do we get out of the habit of protecting ourselves?

For Olga, she had truly accepted her life … Short leg and all. That doesn’t mean she didn’t dream of running and playing but she was at peace with her condition.  If we all could get to this place of contentment then I think our hearts would be full and it would spill over into our faces. In Proverbs 27:19 it says “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

Lately my deepest desire is to have a heart content with what the Lord has for me today, for joy to come spilling out of me.  I am being patient with myself, knowing that the joy will come as I am grateful for all the things I’ve endured this past year … For I know that for those who love God all things work together for good!  – Romans 8:28

Too often I focus on the problem, when what I really need to shift my eyes to is the One who holds it all together …He has our hearts in his hands. Laura said it best, “The heart is more important than a leg.”

 

%d bloggers like this: