To Relate

If I stop being
—relatable—

If the pretending stops,
the commonalities drop,
pretension and
indecision
stop leaving whole manuscripts unwritten—

WILL.
YOU.
SEE.
ME.

Will the stereotype
and the vomitous tripe
fill the void I left inside?

Will you dump misconceptions—
never staying around for questions,
always making excuses for your indescretion?

Piling up the stones,
burying my bones,
in what you think will become my tombstone—

You. Don’t. Know. Me.

You don’t know the seed
you plan to impede—
rows upon rows of so-called weeds.

Because those weeds you plan to destroy?
Don’t care of they steal their food.
Don’t mind the space they take.

And even if you pluck them up,
Pull them out, poison their roots,
they spread:
dandelion seeds on the wind.

 

 

 

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My One Word for 2017

 

The empty page called to me: write it all out. All of the frustrations with last year. All of the hopes and dreams you hold for the new year. Write!

I wrote a long list, at least a page long. It took a couple of hours, but at least I was done. Most of the resolutions listed included vague goals like read my Bible more or be a better friend. That list lasted maybe a couple of days at best, and at fourteen years old, I already knew that resolutions were a waste of time.

Five years ago, I started reevaluating my parenting. I saw a need and realized that unless I changed, my parenting wouldn’t. Instead of a long list of vague goals, though, I picked one word that embodied the person I desperately wanted to become: intentional. I did not become intentional in a year, but I have become more intentional over time. The words that followed (obedience, shalom, prophetess, and abundance) also shaped my character and habits.

Last week, I shared about my year of abundance. In many ways, I was surprised at how much abundance came from my relationships rather than my comforts in our home. Comfort in the home only comes when we are comfortable with ourselves, and that’s something that only happens when we’re around others who breathe life into us.

It’s a perfect segue into this year’s word: dreamers.

I have fought this word unlike any other. In all honesty, I am afraid to dream or to watch others dream. And at the same time, my husband and I are, in fact, dreamers. We have spent years dreaming with nothing to show for it, and our dreams have led us to a cynical sort of planning for dreams to fail.

But when the Spirit pressed this word onto my heart, I wanted to cry with relief. It feels as though we’re being called to dream again. So why the struggle?

Reality flooded in. That cynical voice inside of my head spoke up and spoke loud. Dream? You dare to dream after all that’s happened to you? It’s better to stay inside and forget about dreaming. Keep your head down. Yes, that’s much safer. 

But then a quieter, stronger voice whispered, Yes, dream. Keep dreaming. Keep walking forward. This is the hard path that leads to life. 

And it has. We are dreaming again. We are loving others again. Finally, after years of betrayal and hurt, our wounds are healing. Once again, we are working with a church plant, but this one bears little resemblance to the last. Here, we are heard. We are valued. We are not pushed or prodded with guilt but appreciated and loved as friends.

2016 was rough, but it brought us to the place where we can dream again. And I am thankful for that.

 

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2016: a year of abundance

Since 2012, I have chosen a new word each year to focus on. The words come from the Holy Spirit’s direction, guiding me in ways He would have me grow. And I have definitely grown.

Last year’s word was abundance. In so many ways, it was a year of growth and maturity. We prayed hard about direction and guidance for two years, and then within a month my husband had accepted a new job within his company and we moved for the first time since our oldest was born. This was an answer to many prayers. It was also an answer to many unprayed prayers.

During the transition, I wrecked our van. My husband had just bought a car. The area we moved to has a higher cost of living than we were used to. Our budget grew slightly but stretched to its limits and then some. So we buckled down. Our budget does not have any wiggle room, but our spending has never been more frugal. Maturity stinks sometimes.

However. The city we moved to just so happens to also be home to a friend of mine I met online. Who, with her husband, had started a church plant not even a mile from our new house in January. We began attending services in May, but it wasn’t until August, when they started small groups, that we really began to feel at home. And now, after two years of transitioning and attending different churches, our family finally has a new church home.

{And after several years of searching for friendship in ministry and in life, we have found lifelong friends in our pastor and his wife. Who just so happen to be friends I met online several years ago. God is so good.}

At the beginning of December, my husband preached his first sermon in over a year and a half. In it, he talked about how expectations don’t always pan out the way we think they will. And he courageously shared our story, the good and the bad and the unexpected ways that God has worked in our lives. That evening, I told him that I finally understood the line from The Velveteen Rabbit about being real. In telling our story, he had made us both more real. And while I felt raw and exposed and vulnerable, I also began to feel like nothing could take away this new acceptance I had for myself.

While I still have a ways to go in accepting who God has made me, huge strides were made last year. I realized that certain people will always see me a certain way, whether that’s true or not. But that’s okay. I also realized that I can be myself, warts and all, and the people who really care about me will make space for me. I’m still practicing both of these, and I probably always will, but progress is being made.

Let me sum up the year of abundance this way: abundance does not come from money or things; it comes from following God’s leading even when it doesn’t make sense. It comes from fellowship and friendship and a willingness to be vulnerable with others. It comes from taking risks, saying yes when it’s easier to hide, and focusing daily on the tasks set before us.

While it’s easy to say that I’m glad that 2016 is over because it was hard, I’m sad that it’s gone. These years of learning and growth are hard, no doubt, but they always lead me to a better version of myself. {Also, I’m a little terrified of this year’s word. It promises to be a doozy.}

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Hygge and Homemaking

Hygge. It’s the new buzzword that has everyone looking for candles, comfort, and hot cocoa.

Some have called it homemaking, but that seems too simple for today’s standards.

When I first heard of hygge (around two weeks ago), I gravitated towards it. Comfort, warmth, and ritual have eluded me even as I strive to find them in daily life. Like so many today, I thought the problem was internal. And yes, we all have our issues to work out, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe the problem exists in how I set up my surroundings instead of what I think.

Or. Maybe the two are linked.

Do I take care of myself, my family, my home as if they matter? As if I care about them?

Or do I take care of them as if they are the root of my problems, the source of my anger, the kindling for the fires against my soul?

Both are true at times. I care about them, for them, and yet their lives and needs crowd against me as if to strangle me.

Most days, I’m left holding on to the frail ends of my own sanity. Last night, I sat for thirty minutes in the dark, listening to campfire sounds to drown out the incessant talking, giggling, and general noise. I had sat too long in the daily fray of three girls under 6 years old, and the introvert in me desperately needed a break. It worked, but just barely, and again I’m starting the day with nerves already on the brink of collapse.

I keep taking care of myself, my children and the house. I keep at it, believing maturity and time will iron out some of these wrinkled places.

But what if it doesn’t? Again, the two link. Homemaking, hygge, comfort, ritual, and warmth all need their place in our lives. We desperately need to recognize life in the small places for these small things give us life.

As I sit typing, a candle sits lit to the side. Warm coffee waits to be sipped. A bath robe, comfy socks, and my favorite t-shirt relax me. These small gestures welcome my soul into this space, creating life in the mundane. And so, this space also welcomes you. Grace to you, friend.

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