The Rush of Life

imageI was pretty excited to find a line at the busy grocery store that had just one person checking out. You know that feeling, right? I bet you also know the feeling when you realize you picked the wrong line at the store. Like I said, I was pretty excited. I was able to immediately begin to unload my cart. I got about a quarter of the way unloaded when I had to wait for more room. I stood with a few things in hand waiting and watching. Everything moved soooooo slooooow. I kept my positive attitude, though. Maybe the cashier was having a hard time with something. I eventually saw the truth. She was just sloooow and I was stuck. Because, come on, I’m not going to reload my cart and find a new line. That would be mean. I would just stand there and wait––and complain in my head.

It finally was my turn. A lady behind me stood and waited and watched for a few minutes. She saw how sloooow the cashier was and decided to find a new line. Another lady came up and waited and watched. Same thing, she left for a new line. Man came. Same thing, he was out. I saw a supervisor or manager person walk past a few times watching her sloooowly do her job. So, instead of my eyes darting all over the store in boredom, I began watching her work. She never looked up, never stopped working, and wasn’t messing anything up.

Her small, shaky hands struggled to get the plastic bags apart. My impatience turned into understanding. “Those bags always seem to stick, don’t they?” She chuckled and said they do. She looked up, smiled, and continued working. It took her a very long time, but she finished. I swiped my card and it asked on the screen if I was satisfied with the check out time. No, was my first instinct. Then I changed my mind and pressed yes. I was satisfied because it made me stop and think.

We all need to slooow the you-know-what down. We expect to much from people. We want speed and we want perfection. I’m not just talking about wanting to find the fastest lines. We hurry with everything. We want the fast track. We want what we want when we want it. We want our kids to learn how to do this and that by a certain age. We worry and beat ourselves up when we see they don’t. We do the same for ourselves. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why is there so much pressure?

We are so busy rushing that we are missing the small moments. To me, it is the small moments that make life meaningful. Your wedding day is just another wedding day without all the small moments throughout. I’ll never forget the night before my wedding when I found a card Matt had hidden under my pillow for me. I’ll never forget a sentence that the pastor said that made me forget all the people staring at me from behind…which made me nervous. It was just Matt, me, and the pastor after that point. All those small moments were what brought beauty into our special day.

Let me not forget about God in this moral of the story. In all our rushing we are at risk of drowning out the blessings that God has right in front of us. That cashier was a blessing to me and I almost missed it. Wow. I almost missed something that I needed reminded of very badly.

What blessings might you have missed?

 

Stepping Out

Today we have plans to spend the day at the pool, our favorite family hangout place as of this summer. The weather is not quite warm enough, but we may suffer through because the pool closes for the season after today. As I am waiting and hoping for the breeze to slow a bit so we can go, I sit on our deck and am quite enjoying the breeze. So, I cannot make up my mind if I love or hate it. Oh the fickleness of it all.

There is something in a warm breeze that pulls me in. A few minutes ago, I started thinking of love and life and the different ways each and every one of us sees and feels and lives. It is overwhelming, if you think of it, how different we all are. Yes, we all have common ground and I believe you can find common ground with anyone, if you let go of your judgements and preconceived ideas of people.

If you were to be able to see through someone else’s eyes, I bet you’d see world much more different than you could possibly imagine. I think of my two boys for example. Same parents, same opportunities, same many other things. They’re opposite in the ways they take on life. They give love differently. They receive love differently.

I love my boys and I know they love me, of course. They are amazing in their own ways. I cannot imagine my life without them. One, though, is harder to understand…harder to reach. He doesn’t talk about his feelings as the other does. The other is much more like me. We talk and think things through. We are very much in touch with ourselves. We don’t get through anything without talking and expressing our feelings. When he is mad, people need to listen to how he feels and almost magically his anger dissolves.

The other doesn’t want to talk, he is quite the opposite. He does better when people let him be to sort through it on his own. I feel as though it is his way of maintaining control. Maintaining control over his life gives him peace. He appears to be more dismissive toward people who feel the need to talk. So, expressing feelings towards him sometimes feels as though he doesn’t care. I know he does care. He has a huge heart. He just is different.

Why wouldn’t someone want to talk through their feelings? One boy thinks.

Why does someone need to talk through their feelings? The other thinks.

God made people to have their own unique strengths. Those strengths can make it hard for people to understand each other. That could be where where we screw up. I mean, we aren’t God and we shouldn’t think we hold so much power as to understanding where people come from all the time. Do we even have the right to? We need to start seeing that understanding is sometimes overrated. Maybe it’s in the not understanding where the true beauty lies. Because, that is when we step out of ourselves and into something bigger and more meaningful…unconditional love.

The end.

Floating

IMG_0474One of the things I have taken from my life changing moments, the big and the small, is the realization of how tiny I am in the big picture. Yes, I know my tiny self can make a huge impact. I like to compare it to being a piece of the puzzle. One piece can close gaps and bring fulfillment. The thing is, until I see the other pieces being important as well, I cannot truly fit. I must be able to see beyond myself.

Sometimes, I try to wriggle my way in to find I don’t fit. I need to see that I may be trying to fit in the wrong puzzle. I want to fit where I want to fit. I see the place that makes the most sense. I see the place that is easy and comfortable. Maybe at one time I did fit in a particular puzzle, but something changed. I grew or simply changed…or the other pieces around me changed. I could go on forever with the possibilities.

Let me just face it. I am not carved piece of cardboard. The puzzle is simply a metaphor, a weak one if that. I don’t just belong to one puzzle. I am moldable and so is everyone else. Isn’t that beautiful? Inspiring? Scary? Yes, yes, and definitely yes.

For someone like myself, the transition from one place to the next is terrifying. It can feel as though I am floating around frantically looking for my safe place to land. I like having my place. Not just in the physical sense, of course. Even in friendships or other relationships, I need my place. I’m not thinking of any friendship or such right now, though. My point is that I seek purpose in all aspects of my life. Is it good or bad? Maybe it is both.

When I find myself floating around I must remember He is molding me or molding those around me. My safe place is not always in the purpose of today or where I fit into the puzzle, but it in the purpose of the days to come and where I may soon fit. It is in trusting His lead that my faith is strengthened. It is in the floating into the unknown that His power is shown.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

 

 

 

Eclipse Chasing, Life Lessons

IMG_0602Today is the day after the eclipse and I am sitting here on my couch reflecting on our amazing adventure. We decided a while back that we would travel down to the path of totality. We booked a room in a small town in Tennessee and figured we’d choose a place of viewing once we were down there. That is how we take trips. We never over plan the details and it always works out better than we could ever envision. If you think about it, it is a good way to take life on, as well. Plan the things you must and don’t worry about the little details. Right? Right!

I feel as though I have so much I can share and I don’t know where to begin. Can I even find words to describe the experience? When I close my eyes, I can still feel the overwhelming emotions of the two and a half minutes of totality. More though, when I think of the entirety of the trip itself I am reminded of how small we all are. There is nothing more in life I enjoy more than humbling moments. This one tops them all. I wonder if we were to see another total eclipse, could it conjure up the same feeling(s)? If so, I shall beg my husband to become eclipse chasers.

The people of the eclipse may have impacted me just as much as the eclipse itself. Even at the hotel we met a couple whose daughter lives in our area. As I was talking to them, a young lady overheard us talking and picked up her stuff and sat with us. She just graduated from the local high school. Another man overheard and approached us because he lives close as well. Talking with them, we all found more connections. Oh, how I love connections.

The traffic to the eclipse wasn’t too bad. We bypassed some of the heavy traffic, thanks to my husband’s navigational skills. Us being us, we didn’t even decide on a spot to see the eclipse until we were almost there. Matt was checking out the map as I drove. He found a small town with a county park that seemed to be a perfect spot. It was! It was absolutely perfect. It had a beach and a splash pad for the kids to stay busy prior to the event. The place was not packed and was relaxing. Matt took the boys to play while I set up our spot.

There were two older ladies next to us that I started talking with. They were complete opposites of each other, but were best friends. I was fascinated by them both. Maybe because they were both a good mix of myself. One was a talkative lady who so obviously loved learning about people’s lives just as I do. The other was an introverted retired Air Force nurse who rekindled my love for nursing by her amazing stories and mark she made in nursing. When it was time for us to leave after the eclipse, both ladies gave me a huge hug. As I opened my car door one of the ladies said in her sweet southern accent, “We sure do have a lot in common.” I nodded and said, “We sure do. How glad I am that we decided to park by you ladies!”

Without further ado, the total eclipse. It is hard to describe. As Oliver said with his hands up, “It was just awesome.” Yes it was. It was awesome in the way awesome is intended to be. Awesome has been overused to the point it has lost its awesomeness. Anyway, in the moments leading up, everyone and everything became quiet and still. Anticipation built and it was as though you could feel it bubble up and then release when the moon fully covered the sun. All you could hear around were oohs and aahs and words such as awesome and amazing. Everyone looked around at each other as if to wonder if it was really happening. Matt described it as feeling like he was in movie. It was surreal.

One moment it was light and the next it was dark. It wasn’t pitch black though, which was good. All around in the distance it was like a 360 sunset with the beautiful colors peeking through. In the sky we saw the mighty black moon and a slight majestic glowing around it. It was the fastest two minutes of my life. It was the most awe-inspiring as well. Everything else left my mind. No worries, no to-do list, nothing but what was around me. We only snapped a couple picture and Matt took a quick video. When you see it, you just know a picture or a video cannot do it justice. Just like my words cannot do it justice.

The thing that stuck with me the most is how the moon completely covered the sun and yet there was a light that still remained. Reminds me of the world we live in.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

-John 1:5

Raw

imageThe last year and a half has been rough on me. I haven’t wanted to fully admit it (even to myself) and I especially haven’t felt like discussing it. I don’t want to go into all the particulars that has caused this. Life is life and it isn’t always pleasant. For someone like myself, there is nothing harder than to watch bad things or bad times fall upon people I care about. I’m not saying this to prove I’m a good person, but I’d much rather have bad things happen to myself than to my peeps. That is the good and bad of the gift of mercy. I presume every gift has a weakness and Satan uses that weakness to try to tear us down.

Sometimes it is all the little instances that build rather than just one thing. A cousin commits suicide, an aunt overdoses and dies, an old friend dies, and the other instances I do not wish to share. My cousin left me hurting due to all the pain he endured and felt he couldn’t endure any longer. My aunt, where do I begin? I have fond memories of her wit and creativity. I also have painful memories of watching someone slowly destroy their life over many years. My old friend left me thinking of what more christians can and should do for those who live differently…those who have been dragged down, beaten, and have made poor choices because of this thing called life. Actually, everything from this past year and a half have left me thinking that.

My life has been rather “easy” compared to most. I know that and I am thankful. Maybe it has made it easier to have the faith I have. My struggles are insignificant compared to some and maybe that has made me “weaker”. I know some whom feel I haven’t truly lived. I must disagree. I believe we live through not just our own experiences, but through others as well. Our lives are connected and our lives have the power to alter the lives of others. Our lives are far from being isolated, that is a fact. Yes, I know no one else truly knows what it is like to live in thine own shoes, but that does not mean it doesn’t give insight and life to those around.

My somewhat easy life has left me raw and has left me stumbling. Last night, Matt and I had a conversation that I was yearning for and didn’t even realize I was. He thanked me for all the sacrifices I have made for our family and others. He told me he notices all I do. He said he doesn’t know how I do all I do. It made me weep uncontrollably. I did not know how much I needed to release. Those cleansing tears have left me feeling lighter today. Crazy what a few words from a loving husband can do for a person.

My Giver

“Luke gets more attention than me,” Oliver said matter of factly. He wasn’t whining or yelling. I could tell it wasn’t an easy thing for him to say. He stood there, staring up at me with his beautiful brown eyes. I felt his pain more than he’ll ever know. I reached down and picked him up. I apologized. All I could do was say sorry, because his words were true. Most of the time Luke gets more attention.

Oliver is very much his own person. He’s creative, wise, and kind. He’s the little brother that is always looking out for his big brother. He’s been that way since he could walk and talk. He’s a giver. He gives without expecting anything in return. Luke needs a brother like Oliver. He really does…and I thank God for their relationship.

Part of being a giver, is losing yourself in the needs of others. Oliver quietly gives and gives. His needs build and build until they boil over. All that is left is a little guy yearning for some attention. It sneaks up on him. It sneaks up on us too because he shows no signs. He happily gives. He is all smiles and love and cuddles…until he’s not. Boy can I relate!

In many ways, Luke will always require a bit more attention than Oliver. It is a fact. It is something we all recognize and try to do our best to balance the best we can. Maybe the key is encouraging Oliver to tell us like he did yesterday. Maybe that will save him from some of the struggles I’ve faced in my life.

Being a giver is a wonderful quality to have. I never want Oliver to lose that. As a parent, especially as a parent who can relate, I need to do a better job letting Oliver know that he can and should get his needs met as well.

I love my little giver!

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Spiritual Affirmation

Every morning look in the mirror and say, “You’re beautiful. You’re smart. You can do anything.” I’ve heard many examples of personal affirmations and the reasons why they actually work. I cannot say I have consistently tried this in my life. I simply giggle anytime I have tried to talk myself in such a way. It is intriguing, nonetheless.

I was thinking, though. What if I did this in a spiritual sense? Like, take what should be a simple fact that I tend to overlook or brush past, engrain it in my thoughts, and (bam) I feel the truth more deeply.

Take the first part of Romans 8:11, “And if the same spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you…”. The same spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in me. Wow, the same spirit. When I think of my life and the way I’d live my life if I made that a part of my mindset more often. I would have more peace, more joy, more love…more fruitful living. Powerful, isn’t it?