Pancake Making - A Way to Restore the Soul?
How making pancakes 🥞 can be a form of rest - Ok, confession time - I’m working on a new practice these days: resting through play.
Being Sunday it is a perfect day for it because
1) God created it for that purpose
2) there’s not much around my house calling for
my attention so the time is available
I’m learning that this is actually an essential part of life just like eating, sleeping, exercise and working (not all necessarily in that order). 😉
Recently I was challenged to think back to what I did as a child to play. The first memory that rose up was bike riding 🚲. I used to love riding around my neighborhood! I realized, too, that, the times I wasn’t riding with my friends or brother, I was doing a lot of thinking; not about anything necessarily profound, just thinking about life. And dreaming; letting my mind wonder.
It was soul-filling. It was fun.
I considered going for a ride this weekend. Thanks to Covid I own a bike as an adult (since it was one of the only things to do about a year ago today. P.S. It’s been a year y’all! 😯). However, that idea was postponed until spring temperatures come around. I don’t recall riding my bike as a kid when it was cold outside 🥶 and I intend to keep that part of the practice the same as an adult. 😆
Instead I thought about other things I did. Another memory that surfaced was baking. I made a lot of brownies and cakes as a teenage. Side note - my youngest loves to bake now although he's not quiet a teenager yet. It’s fun to see the same desires I had of ways to play show up in my kids. 🧑🍳.
Today I decided to make pancakes. It's not exactly baking but still a form of play for me. I actually hesitated when the idea came to me because pancakes, in my opinion, are one of the slowest forms of cooking I know. By slow I mean you have to stand there the entire time babysitting them until they're done. With baking, at least, you can set a time and walk away for a while - that's more my kind of speed 🙃
Additionally, most pans only have space for one pancake at a time and each one take a few minutes to cook. Math calculations are not at the top of my skills list but the desire to maximize time is and from what I’ve calculated making pancakes takes a while 🤓
Still, today is a day of rest for me so here I stand in my kitchen making pancakes and typing this in between each flip 🥞.
So why does it matter that I’m sharing this? Because before I starting typing a reminder came to mind from a book I've started to reread this year called "Essentialism" by Greg McKnowen. It one section he talks about how an essentalist needs to take time to play and whatever you choose do as a form of rest/play can create space for you discover answers to questions you’ve been pondering.
I think we all have questions in our minds and hearts but they may not rise to the surface until we choose to take time away form the usual stuff that fills our days and consider what they are.
For me a couple are:
-how long should I allow my son to play on screen today as he works through concussion protocol (a first for all of us as a result of his first season of football 🏈)
-what else did I enjoy doing to play as a kid? I won’t list all the ideas here now. (Although that may come in future posts! 😃).
I'm taking it an hour or so at a time with my son because that is as much as I know to do right now.
As for play ideas writing came to mind. I remember journaling a lot as a teenager, writing out my prayers and thoughts was my way of processing the world. I didn't ride my bike as often then. Perhaps it was a, sort of, next form of play for me? Either way it was -
soul-filling and fun
Although I didn’t realize that at the time.
Today I read this quote in the monthly email from the leaders of a writing group I joined back in May of 2020 called hope*writers -
The good news about this is that writing can be a diagnostic tool to show us where we’re stuck in our lives. And it can also be the tool we use like the lever that we put our hands on in order to sort of pry ourselves free.
— Allison Fallon (Author, Speaker, and Writing Coach)
This quote promoted me to consider ---
Am I starting a new practice of learning ways to rest?
Or, am I uncovering ways that I utilized earlier in my life but didn’t realize the value and impact they had on me to be soul-filling and fun?
I am not who I was all those years ago but that doesn’t mean that those “tools” of play cannot still be used today as a way to restore something that has been intended since the beginning of time - rest 😌
An invitation to consider - Are you creating any practices these days that are helping you ? If so, please share in the comments below or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to learn what they are!
My Why and the other -wh questions
As I grow in this gift of writing I am learning a lot. One foundational skill I am learning is to know that my writing is not just for me but for my readers - that's YOU! :) You are my who ---
I’m writing as a recovering peacekeeper for fellow peacekeepers out there; who may nod to the feeling of holding a tightness in their chest, stomach, somewhere in their side body, or in their jaw but mainly in their soul. I’m writing as a recovering peacekeeper whose thoughts lock up when situations present themselves that are less than peaceful.
I am also learning what my message is. This is still not completly clear but as I write the fog is lifting some. So far that is what it is showing -
I write to encourage those in recovery that it is ok to speak up, to come out into the light from under the dark weight of fear where choosing to stay silent, hiding their true selves and burring their true feelings puts the weight of conflict on their body rather than on the situation.
The truth is that these actions actually don't create peace and, at worst, they can slowly kill the soul.
(adapted from Enneagram 60 Day Devotional by Elisabeth Bennett p. 42-43)
I write to share words of hope that can help RESTORE peace. Recently I read an article about the restorative work of homes. In it is gave the general definition of restoration work - "...it is to save what historic or original features are there and put back lost elements with ones most closely representing what might have been used. (my emphasis added).
Historic, origional, lost, might - all of the words speak to what was intended to be at the time of your creation but because of sin and seperation the work broke down. This fact of our human condition can feel defeating. Thankfully, though, the work doesn't stop there.
Later in the article it continued with further explination, "The essence of restoration is flexibility and creativity. “Thinking outside the box” is a cliché not lost on restoration! Of course, decisions have to be practical and judgment calls must be made, just think twice before taking a crowbar to anything. Sometimes there is not much left to save, most times there is plenty. You can complete necessary repairs, and make upgrades to meet current usage requirements and needs, and still be sensitively restoring your home. What is important is that decisions are informed ones, based on research and information, not marketing pitches." (my emphasis added)
To me this is where the work happens; life, growth, RESTORATION. And this is what it looks like - it is FLEXIBLE not linear. It is CREATIVE not black and white, one way or the other. There is also practicality. We do what God has given us the sense to do - brush our teeth, go to bed at a decent time, not eat all the chocolate every day, talk to Him about the circumstances that confuse, frustrate, annoy and sadden us, talk to friends too, ask them and ourselves the hard and most honest questions, wait, trust, hope. When all this is done it might feel like nothing is left but when time does it work a different picture comes into view. Next steps are taken, often in faith alone, but with a greater confidence than one had before.
The article closed with this - "Know the difference between efforts that reflect restoration versus its cousins: renovation, rehabilitation and remodeling. Hopefully historic value is always a consideration before something new is a replacement, and that you realize what you may be losing as well as what you may be gaining.
The work of true restoration is not easy or quick but it is worth it because, while some parts may be taken away, the foundation will not be and what new pieces are replaced are ones that will last because they were not built on human stregnth alone but by God's.
Here mainly. However, this site does not allow for sign ups notifications. So you can join my Facebook group - Wordsbypaige - by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/181792403277347 and signing up to recieve notifications of posts for blog updates and other info. This is the most effecient way to get consistent updates.
I also hope to create a sense community for encouragement that will shine a light on creative ways that we can all become more of a peace maker in our own areas of the world.
There is not set time yet but my hope is to post as often as inspiration and examples of restorative hope are given to me. Right my goal is monthly although I am greatful to say I seem to be surpassing that already! :)
By inviting you to join me as on a journey of learning and restorative growth. Using creative tools that provide understanding and clarity by asking questions that demonstrate a process of consideration for what the most HONEST questions are and, while clear answers may not come right away, working together to discern arrows of direction may surface and help discern what to "go big on" and what to eliminate.
The goal of Words by Paige is to seek to create and craft words that are used as an invitation to join me on a journey of restoration.
On this journey I hope to do three things -
1) foster a restorative union for your soul to help you find peace with the great Creator and master Builder of all
2) provide words that create arrows and give a better clarity of what may need to be eliminated so that they can be drawn closer to the invitation to get to know the Creator and Restorer of all that is true peace
3) as the response to the invitation of RESTORATIVE work takes place both in and through a life, it can be shared with others so that they, too, might know about it and receive the same invitation to experience it.
article source - https://oldhousecpr.com/2018/08/08/why-restore/
The Done List
What if you woke up one morning, know in the back of your mind all the things just waiting for you to do on your to do list for that day. You crawl out of bed, make your way to the kitchen to get your cup of coffee and scan over the never ending list. As you begin to scan you notice something very strange. It is almost impossible to read because all of the tasks on it have been crossed off. You rub your eyes. You have to be imagining this. "Surely this can't be right", you think to yourself. "Maybe one of the kids did this."
You take a closer look at the list again and notice the title has changed from "To Do" to "Sins Forgiven". "Ok, haha! This has to be a joke from Nate or once of the boys! 'Sins Forgiven'?" You continue to read what you can make out from all the crossed out words - "jealousy, comparison, unbelief, lying, greed, lust..." the list continues to the bottom of the page.
As you reach the bottom you notice something else written in large letters - "IT IS FINISHED". You look up in wonder, "This doesn't make any sense. What is going on? Who really did this?"
Then, out of the corner of your eye, you notice a figure of a person. It is Him, the only one who could have truly done this. He speaks softly,
"Child of mine, I created you. I love you. I made you. You can trust me. I am your Creator; your Maker. I put those desires for good in you. You don't have to be afraid. I've already done all the work that needed to be done. You don't have to do anything else. I have saved you. Jenn, you are mine. It is finished."
Then He asks, "Will you join me in the creative work I've planned for us to do together today?"
Will you join Him? Will you be open to what He wants to do both in and through you for the glory of His kingdom? After all, He is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine, according to His power at work within us.
The Coming Beauty to Behold
I am no different than anyone else. My holiday season has looked different this year too. The changes it has brought have been slow though, almost to the point that they felt unexpected and seemed unconnected from one event to the next. By grace alone though I was able to make the necessary shifts to what I felt were the best decisions for myself and my family.
"Making a shift...learning to be adaptable...going with the flow"; I love the way these quotes sound but having to put them into practice is not my natural bend. Again, by grace alone, I am learning take steps of faith to do the next right thing. What has been so surprising is that the more steps I take, the more beauty I see in the moments that come.
This past week I noticed this tree pictured above. Can you image if this tree decided not to be adaptable to the coming changes the next season was bringing? What if it refused and tried to keep it’s leaves green all year long? While I don’t recall all of the biological facts that would make this impossible, I can’t help but think how impossible this would be simply because it was not created to stay the same all the time.
As I reflected on this truth, the whisper of the same fact tugged at my heart - I was not created to stay the same either. I was created to change. because I was designed to grow. Growth occurs THROUGH CHANGE.
Additionally, through the change is also where the beauty is seen. Thinking back to the tree before it's leaves turned to their bright yellow color, the green was nice to look at but it was the same as all the other trees that surrounded it. It did not stand out in a unique beauty that it was created to behold. However, once the colors of the leaves began to change, it almost couldn't be helped to see the uniqueness and the beauty it possessed.
When I consider staying the same there is a risk involved. The risk is missing out on seeing what beauty and uniqness that could be missed. But if I choose to step out in faith and accept the change, only time can tell what beauty will be seen.
The circumstances that are bring about change are not usually less than desired. In order for the tree to change the weather had to change. It has tempreature had to get colder. The sun shone less often.
I, too, have not wanted to welcome the circumstances that carried change but I am slowly seeing that in order for me to see the beauty beyond it. I must accept the change. I must accept the coldness, the lack of light.
The truth is, too, that change is coming either way. More things are out of my control that I would care to admit. I can try to ignore the changes but I will only find myself lacking warmth and light. The reality is that there is no choice to stop change but there is a choice to pivot myself towards it and see what beauty it brings with it.
Sensing this call to change is something that only comes from a leading of the truth, which can be difficult to discern amidst the increasing darkness the season brings. I wondered what could be done to better sense this leading and follow it?
One practice I am learning to do is to take time to ask questions that come with the change. What am I anxious about? What scares me? What frustrates me?
This practice helps give names to what underlying narratives are present in my heart and mind. They also help clear the fog of all my thoughts and feelings to the truth that has been with me all along.
One specific truth I have been able to see through this practice is that I am not alone in my struggle to change. Additionally, I will not be alone as I continue to take steps towards change. I will be met with unexpected beauty; more than I could ever imagine in fact.
If you find yourself or someone you know in a similar struggle, I would encourage the consideration of what questions your heart might be holding.
What narratives are you letting hold you back from change? What action, change of action or lack of action might you do or not do that will give you the strength and courage necessary to do the next thing and open your eyes to beauty and to bring the true narrative of hope to the surface rather than allowing the false narrative of despair to remain? (Yes, that is a long question!) :)
This practice of asking questions is a way to prepare room for the beauty to come in. It may not come quickly but it will come.
If you need an additional dose of ways you might see beauty, see my list of ways I have noticed it in the past couple of weeks -
new playlists - https://open.spotify.com/playlist/75hPSNtGg8aZlXjv1KyUe6?si=-IqE3w5kStiEHVcableoaQ
reading about how to cook and bake in alternative ways (broccoli crust white sauce pizza, healthy cinnamon sugar donut holes)
snuggling with dogs
sharing words of encouragement
spending time with family
doing craft-like activists with my kids
noting progress on goals using specific measurements
watching Christmas movies
splitting bigger tasks - like running errands - into smaller ones
Also, some things I noticed that I don't enjoy doing but still bring beauty once they're complete
mundane house cleaning chores like laundry and washing dishes
As you welcome change in this season, please share below what beauty you've seen in the process.
It was upside down
*Shared with his permission* :)
This kid, who complied for a picture but only if he could wear his mask, conquered a small feet today. He put together his new gaming chair all by himself! It was not without some sweat and tears but it is done!
Back story - he has been waiting a long time for it to arrive. The first one he chose ended up being cancelled due to shipping issues. He chose this one next. (Don't you love the blue?!)
It finally arrived today, earlier than projected! He pushed the giant box in from the front porch, said he only needed a little help getting it open but he was going to try to put it together himself. I gladly stepped back in proud anticipation.
Another back story - he also put together his new desk to use for virtual school and watched his big brother put together his desk and gaming chair. He's had a lot of time to observe and practice. This project should have been fairly easy. Until it wasn't.
You see, there was a specific part that connected the back of the chair to the seat portion. It was crucial that the back was lined up correctly in order to put the two major parts together. His initial attempts were not working so he asked for my help. I tried but it was to no avail. He asked his dad and brother too but they were either unavailable or unsuccessful. He was bummed but kept trying.
Later that afternoon, after his frustration mounted to the point of exhaustion and he gave up. "What's the point?!" he said exasperated. "There's no point to be hopeful because life just keeps being disappointing." He shut himself in his room feeling utterly defeated. I tried to encourage and comfort him but he was not having it. After some time of rest, I was curious to see that, he chose to come back and try again. After a second valiant effort he succeeded!
So what was different about this attempt? Mechanically speaking, he realized that the part he was required to line up and connect was upside down! He turned it the way it was designed to go and was able to put the chair together easy peasy!!
"It was upside down!" he cried in relief as he walked into the kitchen. My mind had moved on since the incident so it took me a moment to realize what he was saying. Once I recalled all the details I congratulated him for a job well done.
Later at dinner I complimented him again on what a great job he did. I shared wit him how it reminded me of what God uses sometimes in life to teach us and draw us closer to himself. He lets us work. We ask for help and either it doesn't go as we had hoped or we have to wait for it. Often we don't want to wait so we continue to work until the point of exhaustion. Then we give up and feel like it is hopeless. Finally, at our point of surrender our mind clears. We are able to see what God wanted us to see - we needed to approach to problem from a different angle, perhaps the completely opposite way we were trying initially - a 180 degree difference. And isn't that the way God encourages us to work, the opposite way our human minds would initially want to do something?
My hope is the next time I am feeling frustrated I will remember some of the lessons my son learned today -
- keep working on something even when it is hard
- when I feel like I am doing the same thing over and over to solve a problem and it's not working, to step away for a while
- sometimes it's better to wait for help when you don't get a response the first time
- ask a consider life's challenges, ask "How could I possibly look from a different angle?" Pray for help to see it that way.
Darkness and Light are the Same to You
This week's episode of The Next Right Thing was on point! If you’re needing a few practical steps, or even just one, to help you move forward, I highly recommend you check out this short episode! 🙂 #mynextrightthing https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-next-right-thing-with-emily-p-freeman/id1268826768?i=1000492097844
Later July & August 2020 Reflection
Do you ever feel like you get lost in, what seems to be, the never ending frenzy of life? Even before a worldly pandemic set in I often struggled to keep up with the daily responsibilities that life seemed to place in front of me. If you know me at all you might be a little surprised to learn I felt this way because I am great at pretending I have got it “all under control”.
I had often heard of the benefits to setting goals. At some point last year, after receiving weekly emails from author and podcaster, Emily P. Freeman, I learned that she took time to reflect on what she had been learning each season.
I remember noticing this the most when she shared about the importance of reflection in order to know where to go next. It was in her podcast episode entitled "Look Back" - https://emilypfreeman.com/podcast/the-next-right-thing/61/
I tend to feel anxious and unprepared about what may be coming next. This podcast and practice has helped provide some peace to the anxiety.
Each season I am learning what it looks like to reflect - the how, why, when. As a writer I tend to struggle to take too long to get to the point (oops, I just did that! 😋). This season I am taking the advice of Emily and putting what I've learned into a list.
10 Things I Learned in later July and August 2020
1. Be flexible to what the day brings
This practice, that I am just beginning, has allowed me to have great visits w/ friends both locally and far away, hang out with family, have hard conversations that helped relationships grow, rest when it was more needed than tackling the never-ending to do list and to serve my family or care for our home
2. I'm a human.
Duh! 😋 Anyone else trying to be perfect rather than being human? While this truth may feel limiting, this next truth breaks that barrier:
"In God’s economy we start each day at 100%. He has named me as worthy. I can receive it or not. When I do I get to use the gifts He’s given me from Him calling me worthy, not for my worthiness."
These life-giving words came from a podcast called "Girl's Night" with Stephanie Mae Wilson. You can listen to it here - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/girls-night-with-stephanie-may-wilson/id1278993781?i=1000487668642
3. I'm loved so I can chill out.
God is pleased with me because of what Jesus did for me on the cross 2,000 years ago and not because of what I do to try to earn His love and affection.
4. Conflict is a part of life and having the hard conversations are worth it in the end.
When the conflict occurs it doesn't mean it's necessarily my fault. It means that there is an area in the relationship that needs attention. If someone chooses to reject me that doesn't mean anything is wrong with me.
TRUTH - I am still loved and made worthy in God's eyes.
5. I am getting more brave at sharing encouraging words.
Hence the blog. My readers (that's you! 😘) encourage me to keep reflecting and writing. Thank you! Keep it up and so will I!
6. Things I love to do, am learning to do, and want to continue to do:
spending time with friends
receive God's peace
look for it each day and share it
spend time in nature take pictures of the sky
7. What's working in my daily routines:
writing morning pages
doing a different writing practice/focus each day, Tuesday through Friday only
reviewing what I learned from my goals my morning routine my workouts
doing things I enjoy as my way to rest on Sundays
reviewing celebrations/how God answered prayers during the past week
praying for specific people on specific days
400 abs/day (thanks for the inspiration Lexi and Danah!)
keeping a fluff list - a list of random thoughts that I go back to later and put into other various to do lists #ilovelists
working off a project list that has specific categories to keep me focused: personal, family and beyond. (This was discovered from the podcast Learn Do Become - https://learndobecome.com/episode80/
Setting reminders for shopping and other various lists
8. What's not working:
summarizing quotes I note on a regular basis
how to celebrate how God has answered prayers each week
doing certain tasks each day (calendar, office desk, meal planning) I have been traveling a lot lately so I am going to continue to work on this one.
And that's all she wrote folks! Well, at least for this reflection season. Based on this I have updated how I will be reflecting for the fall and I am excited to share that next reflection in a few months!
I hope these reflections encourage and inspire you! If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to post a comment below. Keep going and growing!
June and July 2020 Reflection - Beginning Again
Each month I am working on a practice of reflecting. This reflection consists of a lot of firsts. It is a first to combine two months of considering what I've learned. It is a first of reflection on several hard conversations I've had and from which experienced successes. It is a first of noticing how I can be kind to myself by waking up to the feelings that rise up moment by moment rather than trying to rush past them to potentially avoid what they may want to show me. It is a first for having a deeper understanding of what it means to surrender to God's plan.
As a result of these firsts I am reconsidering how to break away from how I think about a few things. The first is the idea of how to have hard conversations. As you, my reader, may agree, having hard conversations is not something we hope to wake up and do each day. For me, it is probably the absolute last thing I want to do! However, after doing some self-reflective work and learning about how I can do this in a way that brings peace to the relationship, I have learned that these conversations can take a turn from learning hard yet truthful information which then leads to good and, even sometimes, healing in relationships.
This practice has required an awakening in me, choosing to say yes to an offer to initiate potentially conflict-inducing conversations. I choose to accept the offer when it arises because of how much I care about my relationships. I actually care more deeply than I initially thought. I know if I chose to stay asleep to certain issues I could miss out on what opportunities that could give both me and the recipient peace.
Life has given several opportunities over the last two months to practice this skill. One thing I learned during my times of practice is to know that there may be ugliness in the truth. It is not going to feel good to hear. It may make me feel uncomfortable but that is okay. I can sit in it, I can feel it, and I can consider the other perspective. *Sigh*
I am eager to learn both before and during the process. It helps to remind myself that I am not alone in it. I know that God was right there with me. Then, after a while of sitting in it, I could respond to the invitation to come rest again.
See, this work is not easy and, again if you are like me, this practice may be new. I am a beginner at it. I don't like being a beginner because it takes time to learn how to do this, how to do it well, to know how much can be taken in at once, and when to stop for a period of time. And I will just add what a blessing it is that I can actually choose to stop for a period of time. That is not everyone's experience. Although the invitation to rest is open to all. Let me know if you would like to know more about that! :)
During this season of learning, looking back, I see how often I chose to be disengaged in these types of conversations. While there are several reasons for my choice that changed on a daily, and sometimes momentary basis, they all came down to preferring to selfishly keep the peace I had been given, I believe from God, instead of considering sharing it with another person that may need it. Choosing to engage and seeing how I can share this gift of peace instead of letting it SIT INSIDE OF ME is a first for me. I know I have it but I didn't realize that I could be hoarding it.
Why would someone hoard such a beautiful thing? One answer that comes to mind is fear. Fear that there might not be enough for both me and the other person. Fear that they may take it all. This fear would often drive my decision making to choose to keep the peace in my “reserve tank”. By choosing this egocentric way I have learned that I actually ended up experiencing a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). See, I missed out on what the experience of sharing the peace could bring by initiating and walking through it in conversation. Stockpiling what I have been given to share is where the missing out really occurred.
As my eyes have been opened to this truth, I have not yet been able to determine how to reorient myself. God has been faithful to lead me. His leading actually took me to a place of rest that gave me the strength to later rise again. This is not what I expected His plan to be.
As I have rested I have learned that His plan has a few pillars. The first pillar is true resting. For me that means doing a lot less than I have been doing both externally and internally. This rest is a part of the plan because knowing how He created me, it is something I need in order to take more steps. The second pillar is trust; a downshift of rest. This is knowing, by reflection of God's faithfulness, that He will provide the sufficient resources needed to do what He is inviting me to join Him in doing; to actually wake up and join in. The third pillar is another downshift of trust; faith. Faith that He will be with me in the work, both in the times I feel peaceful and in the times I am scared.
In all of this I am learning to be relentlessly kind to myself as I learn and grow. I was encouraged to do that in an episode of my favorite podcast, The Next Right Thing, Episode 31: Be A Beginner (https://emilypfreeman.com/podcast/the-next-right-thing/31/). I hope that this reflection will provide some encouragement for you the next time you are presented with the opportunity to be a part of something that may seem too hard to pursue. Consider what fear may be pushing you away and causing you to miss out on what the experience could provide.
Lamenting - asking God the hard questions
This morning on my run I was inspired to write this morning's morning page. I heard two great podcasts that encouraged me greatly. I have been sad lately. I think some had to do with hormones but more had to do with the state of the world.
We’re in phase three but things don't feel much different. I drive by many places and I don't see many cars in the parking lots. I don't feel like there is a lot of life being lived. Then I turn on the news and read yet another story of people being treated so inhumanely that it is nauseating. More life being taken.
In the weekly podcast of "The Next Right Thing", I was encouraged to ask God the hard questions. To work through the lament and acknowledge the suffering. Well, here it goes...
Why is there such a limit on life even though we’re in phase three? Why is the virus still such a threat? Why weren't we more prepared to handle it? Why are so many people having to die? Why do certain people feel so entitled to life?
Sin. This world is full of sin. Sin and suffering. It has been since the day Adam and Eve chose it over God himself. Sin is not new. Humans have been doing it since the beginning of creation. The sin has led to suffering. The suffering is not new. It is just highlighted, at this time, to the entire world.
Most news of suffering doesn't affect me personally. Maybe that's part of the problem. For various reasons that I am not going to explore right now, much suffering passes over me.
Lament - Why is that? Why have I been put into this position? Why was I born a white female in the upper middle class? Why was I able to get an education?
Yet I had a family with it's own issues. Parents that argued and still do to this day. A brother that suffered many things perhaps unnecessarily.
What I learned about lament today was to follow a formula, so to speak, to guide the process. As I heard the steps I was reminded of the Lord's prayer.
God has been calling us to lament, to ask Him the hard questions, all along. It goes like this -
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed it be Your name
(Jesus, in Heaven, you are worthy of praise amidst all that is going on in the world today because, even though sin exists in this world, You defeated it on the cross. This suffering will not last forever.)
You're kingdom come and will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
(What is your pace for me today? Where are you at work that you are inviting me in to? Open my eyes that I may see it.)
Give us this day our daily bread.
(I have needs today. Please meet them. I need wisdom to order the tasks that lay before me to know what is best to do and when. I need supernatural strength and energy to parent my kids. I need grace, love, kindness, and faith.)
Forgive me of my sins.
(Forgive me for being prideful, for wasting precious resources that You've so abundantly given me. Help me to use what I have for Your glory.)
Help me to forgive others who have sinned against me.
(We are all sinners. I am no better than all these insanely sickening stories about those people who treat people so unjustly.)
Keep me from temptation and harm.
(Help me see when I am being tempted to sin, to know the way out, as You have promised to provide. Keep me, my family and friends safe. In Jesus' precious and holy name, Amen.)
First podcast reference - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-next-right-thing-with-emily-p-freeman/id1268826768?i=1000483149455
Second podcast reference - https://www.buildersandbackers.com/press/creative-action-begins-with-lament
Coming out of the Pandemic and Being a Beginner Again
I was on set four of six for my arm workout. I usually enjoy this workout. I look forward to it. It has its challenges but not as much as some other workouts I do. The two most important things to do are, to pay attention to how my body is feeling and to take a look at what weight I lifted with the number of reps I did on the first set. Then, based on set one, I can decide on how to proceed. Take a minute to pause, look within, and look back to know and to determine how to move forward...
I work out more often these days than I ever have in my life. I don't say that to brag. I do it mainly because it helps me clear my head of the swirling thoughts. The thoughts have increased over the past few days and weeks as life has begun to open back up to a new normal.
On this particular day, earlier this week, I felt like I was carrying a lot mentally. It's been two days that I haven't been able to write and I was really starting to feel it. Since that day I have learned that I am pretty sure that, barring a family emergency, I need to do morning pages right after I get back from the gym or stretch.
For those of you who read this and wonder what morning pages are, they are just a simple time to sit down to write about anything and everything. The author of them suggests you fill up three pages writing long hand. I set my timer for 15 minutes to type. It is very therapeutic. I think it is saving me a lot of money I may have otherwise spent on sharing these words with a counselor.
On this day all of the factors I was considering in order to make some decisions for that day and future days were making me anxious. I didn’t want anyone to be mad at me. I am a 9 on the enneagram, if you can't tell.
All of the decisions I was working through involved places to go. On one hand I am thankful that there were options to go places but, I think, because I hadn’t had to make so many of these types of decisions at once over the last two months or so I needed to take it slower than I was trying to make myself do.
Take today. Ask for His guidance. Wait. Trust. Remember. Because of the power within, which for me is the Holy Spirit, I have more strength that I can see on the outside.
Like I said at the beginning, I'll say again both for myself and for you, my reader - first, remember to pay attention to how the body is feeling. Second, take a look at how many reps and what weight was used with the exercise on the first set and gauge (or, in this case what worked when this was last done or something similar to it was done). If this is the first time, allow the experience of being a beginner to take place. Then, based on set one, consider how to proceed.
The View from a Window
New windows, a clearer view, brighter colors on the trees, brighter sunshine coming in. With these new windows I am able to see the beauty that nature beholds.
I am sitting in a different seat to write today. I am at my kitchen table. I am not here by choice but because the office is still a mess. We got new windows yesterday. They look pretty amazing. It's kind of crazy how to view can change when you're looking out of a different window.
The leaves on the trees seem to be a richer green. The grass looks like it has more life. Even the tree trunks seem to be bolder. The interesting fact is that the leaves didn't change color. Neither did the grass or tree trunks. The window in which I am using to look at them changed.
What windown are you using to look out into the world? How does the view look to you? Does it seem dull and lifeless or bright and hopeful? I think many people may say the first option because of all that is going on these days. In the midst of a pandemic, highlighting of racial injustice and, somehow, a still fast-pace moving culture in some ways, it is easy to not see the hope.
So what can be done to change what you see? First, I invite you to simply consider the window in which you're using to see what the world is showing you. Take a step back. Is it dirty? Old? Is the wood around it rotting? How long have you been using it?
Are you curious what it would be like to use another window to look out into the world? Do you think it could change the way you see things? I am learning that when I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see that is only when I can view the world as He intended; to see the beauty there is to behold while also seeing the people and circumstance that need a touch of His love. Sometimes what He shows me is not beautiful. It is the sin in my own heart. It is ugly but He doesn't leave me with that view. He helps me look at more. His love. His forgiveness. His grace.
If you considered the invitation to look through a different window, what do you think He would show you? Another benefit to consider if you choose to look through another window is how it changes the view on the inside. From where I sit as I write this my kitchen looks like it got a facelift. The light above the table is shining brighter. What you see can change both on the outside and inside if you look out a different window. I encourage you to consider what window you will look out of today and may the view brighten your soul.
Father’s Day 2020
A surprisingly cool June evening. I sit in the golf cart catching up on email and articles I’ve wanted to read for the last week or so. We’re spending some time together while he plays his Sunday round. He walks towards to cart after hitting a nice shot, in my opinion, on the fifth hole. His dark skin against his white polo is so attractive to me. He works so hard at everything he does. I am constantly amazed by his drive (for life and for golf). I definitely got more than I bargained for when I married him.
I remember noticing his work ethic while we were dating. It attracted me to him then. Fast forward a little over fifteen years later the attraction of that drive has gone through some ups and downs. Not because of anything he has done. No; only because it has not waivered. In fact, his drive has actually deepened.
I am a person who can, admittedly, get distracted easily. He is not like that. The more I’ve gotten to know him over the years the greater my curiosity has grown as to why that is. Over the same amount of time I have come to learn that I am a curious person. I like to know “why” to many things. I remember asking that question a lot as a kid. Eventually I stopped, though, because I felt a sense of announce from those I sought answers from. The spark of curiosity lit again in college. It occurred as I learned about the fascination that is language development.
It rose in another way when I met him. I was curious about his curiosity towards life and his drive to find the answers he sought after. He studied math and physics. I think you have to have an unwaivering curiosity to dive deep into those subjects. He has that. Which brings us back to today. His job also requires a drive and he is not easily deterred from it.
He brings that to the course too. He’s continues to work on his golf game even when he can’t figure out certain aspects of it. They say it’s a challenging sport. He would agree and it is because of that he loves it and keeps practicing. He has the drive and curiosity to continue to work at it. Those character qualities inspire and encourage me. Earlier I said I got more than I bargained got more than I bargained for when I married him. I had no idea how much more. I am hopeful for a life time to find out.
Happy Father's Day 2020 to the man who is the greatest earthly father I know!
For the Love of Food: How Reading and Writing Can Inspire
As I sat at my kitchen table finishing up the Asian fried chicken and sushi leftovers my sweet friend from Japan had made for me and my family, I found where I had left off in the current book I am read “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. I just finished reading about her grandfather and the explanation of his grumpy attitude. “As we saw every Sunday arriving at Parkway Gardens for dinner, my grandfather lived with the bitter residue of his own dashed dreams.” (Becoming, chapter 3, pg. 39) I turned to look out my window. My thoughts were as follows, “I didn’t realize how sucky it really was for people who were black to achieve their dreams. They were simply, yet not, looked over by those in managerial positions. They had skills to offer and people in leadership positions chose to miss out on seeing what could have been if they’d simply given them the opportunity to work, to learn, to grow. Sad. Sickening.”
As that thought digested, the next one came just as quickly, “I am really enjoying this book. It is so interesting! I am looking forward to the next one on my list (Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, by Ruth Reichl). I am realizing that people really can write about anything! I love food. I wonder how many food memoirs are actually out there? Why didn’t I find out about them when I was a kid? I loved food then too!” Following that I began to wonder, “If people can write about the food they love or their life story, then I can write about the things I love or my life story too.”
Then a moment of inspiration hit. Reading fosters inspiration which fosters creativity which fosters writing. Reading leads to writing and writing is one of the greatest sources of communication. In order to help people communicate they must read. If they can’t read they will struggle to communicate. People must learn to read!
Writers have the power to inspire. I am learning that when I listen I can hear inspiration speak. I am learning to listen for inspiration.
Facing the Storm
I love the picture. I love how it explains how I was feeling yesterday. So many uncontrollable situations in front of me. The interesting thing about this picture is that it is impossible, at least for me, to tell which way it is going to break. The wave looks powerful, thick and monstrous. Where the person stands is not surrounded by land on all sides. Why is he standing so close to the edge facing the wall of water? Why isn't he running towards a larger piece of land; to a place of safety? Is he preparing to embrace the storm? Does he not care that the wave could break on top of him potentially pulling him into the vase and angry ocean? Or smash his body into the unforgiving pavement?
This past week or so there has been a great rise in the media of a storm surging. Despite the rise though, the truth is that the storm has existed for a long time. I personally thought much of it had "moved off shore" and was no longer a situation that I should be considered about. It wasn't until I decided to stop, look and listen, to pay attention, to what was the storm was really doing that I noticed the realities in front of me. They are realities that scare me. I have been in a place of ignorant peace for a long time. They are realities that I need to face though. There is a lot I have to learn. There is a ton of information available to be taken in. There are conversations that need to occur. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 ESV
picture source: Tropical Storm Cristobal approaches the Louisiana Coast.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press NY Times Monday Briefing email 6/8/20
Laughter, Face Time (no screen or internet required) and Looping - What I Learned in Spring 2020
Well, May has come and gone. I’m not sure how you feel, but I am glad to move past it. I am also thankful that I felt like it moved at a steady pace. There was some sort of rhythm in my world: homeschooling, managing household routines and connecting with family and friends in ways that were socially distant and emotionally satisfying. Amidst all the uncertainty, I was thankful for this rhythm.
Even before the pandemic began, I started working to create a habit of being a better listener and making the habit ongoing. As I listen I try to note what I am hearing. Over a one month time period, I then review what I have noted and see what dots show up. I then see what dots need to be connected so that I can see more clearly what I may otherwise miss. Afterwards, I like to share those thoughts because they always encourage me and I hope they encourage you too.
This month I asked myself three questions. Those questions were; what was the funniest thing that happened in May? What do you miss? What will peace look like in June? It was refreshing to listen out for the answers to these questions as I walked at my own pace in May. The funniest thing that happened in May was the overall laughter I experienced as I spent time with my kids. First, I will admit that I have a heavy tendency to approach life from a very serious stand point. Laughter doesn’t happen often for me. As I type that last sentence I feel sad. No matter though; it is what it is. It is said, “Live, love, laugh”, right? I’m working on all of those.
For those fellow readers out there who are parents or caregivers to humans that are school age, I am sure you can relate to the fact that the majority of your waking, and possibly sleeping hours, this past month were shared with kids. This month the majority of my time was spent homeschooling my kids and it was a challenge. Even as a former special education teacher I found that teaching my own kids was not something that A) came easily and B) I found a natural desire to do. I was blessed to be able to talk about those challenges with a friend and fellow mom who’s also a seasoned homeschool parent. After sharing my struggles we laughed a lot as she could relate to what I was going through. It was good for my soul.
After school work was done, I found myself spending time with my kids playing a new-to-us card game called “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza”. It is an energetic game that requires listening and quick reactions. If you have not heard of it, I highly recommend you check it out!
Some other times I found myself laughing were: after reprimanding one of my kids for spraying the other with Febreze (#thingsyouneverthoughtyoudsaytoyourkids), watching my son try to hit a balloon in the air over and over in prep for a game he would play during our at-home field day, and, finally, hosting the at-home field day with a couple of my kids’ friends and watching them play various games.
Dot #1 – Laughter can come from playing games. Need a laugh? Play a game.
Next I asked what I miss being able to do pre-pandemic. I found that I missed hanging out with friends the most. I am thankful that opportunities are on the rise to do more things socially. I am trying to listen out for them, take advantage of what I can, and not complain about the time it takes.
Some other things I missed were: going out to eat at restaurants, going to spring yard sales, working out with friends, and my coffee table being in the middle of my living room. To explain that last one briefly; I am trying to be a nice mom and let my kids keep up a fort that has taken over our living room. I have not been able to come up with a reason why it should come down, and honestly, I don’t want to spend however long it might take to wash all the blankets and sheets they’ve used. I’m curious if I will start to miss the fort once it is taken down and my coffee table is back in my living room.
Dot #2 – Hanging out with people is worth all the time it takes as it’s also good for the soul.
The last question I asked was what peace might look like in June. As I write this post June is here and where I live we are in the middle of phase two for things to open up. My kids are done with all their school assignments even though their technical last day isn’t until June 13th.
We are entering, yet again, a new season and I am still working out what it might look like. In order to do this and to walk through June with peace, I feel like I have to continue a habit I started in May. That habit is called looping.
After listening to a podcast by my favorite author, Emily P. Freeman, share how she has been getting things done, specifically working from home, during the stay-at-home order. In her explanation she mentioned the term “looping”.
The way looping works is pretty simple. You take the list of items you want to do and work on one at a time. You do it until it’s done, or what needs to be done with that item is complete for that day and then you move on to the next item on the list.
In a time where there is less structure and predictability to life yet doing essential tasks such as caring for yourself and your people is, looping has given me a peaceful way to approach the never ending job that is the to do list. Specifically I have applied this to my cleaning routine, office routine (emails, calendar, meal planning, etc.), and project list. The pace of productivity has slowed down but so has my heart rate. I struggle a little less often with the shame of not getting as much done. I accept the day more for what it is and walk in it. Knowing that the item on my loop list is not going anywhere, that the item waiting in queue isn’t either, that I am doing the best I can with what I have, my time, I can work with a little less stress, and leave the rest until it comes back around in the loop.
Dot #3 – Looking for some peace in your summer? Trying looping your to do list. You may find it is good for your soul too.
As I continue to move into June the questions I ask will be a little different. Also inspired by my favorite author I plan to consider the following; what was a moment of celebration in June and to name something you’re reconsidering as a result of the last 30 days. Lastly, what is one thing you’d like to start doing in July?
June has gotten off to a tough start. For now, I will leave it at that. I look forward to sharing what I hear during June next month.
"Pillows in a Pandemic, Interval Running and Your Work"
I just heard my washing machine go off. The towels are done. I will put them in the dryer before I go for my run. I am going to do interval running today. I have set a goal to beat my latest time – 10:33. I enjoy working out to beat my latest goal. That is something I am working on too; learning how to set goals. I have started to do this by writing down what I have done and then reflecting on it so I can get a gauge on what some realistic goals could be to make for the next time. I need to put the towels in to dry before I leave for my run. Our dryer is old and towels take the longest to dry. I also want to wash some other things today. I need to decide between a new sheet set I got last weekend at Aldi and some new pillows I got yesterday at Costco. I had tried to order two from Walmart through my grocery order last week but they were out of stock when I did my pick up. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Are people really hoarding extra large pillows? Possibly. I am sure that sleep is something people are doing more of these days. With less time needed to be out of the house for work, errands and/or entertainment there is more time to sleep in, take a nap or go to be early. I secretly hope this is true because I know this pandemic is causing various types of stress for everyone and sleep is a great way to help your body reset so that it can be equipped to handle what the next day or moments will bring. Or maybe it is like the employee at Aldi said, “The warehouses are prioritizing sending essential items right now.” She's probably right but does that mean Costco has chosen to make pillows a priority? Ok, so that last part was a bit of a digression. Back to running. I run but I would not call myself a runner. I run for the physical and emotional benefits. Recently I decided to start trying to improve my time (or so I thought). I use the Map My Run app. After a few times of noting how, I noticed there were three things that the app marked for me: my time, my pace and the distance I ran. Time is the one that tells how long the entire run took. Pace is the one that tells how long it took to complete a mile. Distance, well you know, how far you went. FYI - I run a little over a mile each time. I’m still trying to determine what I should focus on in order to improve. Should the goal be to make my interval run in less than a mile? Should my time be less than what it was before? Should my pace be faster too? Do I need to choose one or focus on all three? As I pondered these decisions I thought about my writing. I recently joined an online writing community called hope*writers and now I am in the process of transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing for my reader. (By the way, thank you for choosing to be my reader today.) During this process I have been considering my pace. I have noticed since I’ve joined hope*writers that I am doing more reading/learning than writing. In fact, in the last two weeks I haven’t written or shared anything but I have had a lot of ideas that I’ve noted. My reason has been homeschooling during the pandemic. I don’t know how I can do both. This week I have also been reminded of the encouragement that “your pace is your pace; you’re not behind” and “what you share doesn’t have to be perfect before you share it” (from Emily P. Freeman and others during this past week’s Tuesday Teaching). I hear the first one easier than the second. So here is what I have to share for this week. My goal for next is to share at least one thing that has encouraged me so that it might encourage someone else. The last two weeks I have woken up and gone to sleep more excited than I have in a long time. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about something. Maybe when I was planning my wedding or when I was about to finish with school (any season!)? The feeling of excitement makes me feel like I am about to go on a roller coaster. The best example I can give is Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It is one of the few roller coasters I can stand to ride as I succumb to being a woman in her mid thirties. Ironically, this ride is not like most roller coasters. It starts off slow and then shoots you off down a track that leads into a pitch black tower of twists, turns and drops that come unexpectedly, even if you’ve ridden it before because you can never quite remember when those twists and turns will occur. While I am excited these days, I am also nervous. Similar to how the roller coaster slowly pulls out of the station are the first few steps of how my writing life has begun. It started with creating a blog a little over two months ago. Then, just under two weeks ago, accepting the invitation to join hope*writers. Next, I started to read a book called the book “The Right to Write”, which I learned about from being apart of hope*writers. Then, embracing a challenge given at the end of the first “chapter” in the book to write until I filled three pages (although I stopped when my timer of about 15 min. went off because I had to tend to some other things). I felt like the “ride” was about to shoot me off down the track. I feel this way because ever since I spent those few minutes writing that morning, the ideas haven’t stopped coming to me. I feel so excited about them I can barely type them into my Evernote app because my hands were so shaky! Thank God for the person who created autocorrect so that I don’t have to do as much of it myself and can try to have my hands keep up with the words in my mind! I also feel a sense of joy and peace that I have not experienced before. While I look forward to sharing my words with an audience one day, the sheer pleasure of letting them out and putting them together is a gift in itself. It breathes life into my soul. It connects the dots of thoughts that swirl around in my mind. It brings peace. Continuing on this path and looking ahead, I am wondering if this is how God intended our work to feel. I know that those who read my words may not be called to write but I hope that my words will plant seeds of ideas for you to take time to see what your work is and allow yourself to spend some time doing it. You may not always feel the sense of joy, peace or excitement at first, but I encourage you to keep searching and working until you find it. Trust the process. It may start out slow, like Verbolten, but just be ready for it to take off! P.S. – When I got home from my run I discovered that my dryer was broken. This slowed down my pace for the day and changed my plans. This caused me to take some extra steps such as texting my neighbor and friend to ask if I could use her dryer. I had to choose to be vulnerable and admit my need for help. I also had to make a service call to schedule a repair. Upon the reply I found out I would be waiting a few days for someone to come. It makes me wonder if everyone else is using their dryers to dry the pillows they bought up at Walmart! No matter. Although this will slow my pace, having to cart wet loads of clothes over to her dryer comes with the bonus of me being able to see my friend more! Let’s face it, still being in the middle of this pandemic, any excuse to see friends is great! I wonder how this may affect my writing this week. To be continued…
P.S. - Here a video link to Verbolten for the visual learners out there and also for those who just like videos ☺
What I Learned in April 2020 - STILL IN PROGRESS
In the past year I have been encouraged by my favorite author, Emily P. Freeman, to spend time each month considering a few questions and see how that information can help me move forward into the next month with some idea(s) for how to approach it.
This is the first month I have spent time each week reflecting; probably because it was so crazy and I know that writing helps me process through craziness. The questions I considered were - What was life draining? What was life giving? What’s one thing I want to leave behind going into May?
For this month I found that doing so much for my kids was draining. The school managment, trying to support the emotional adjustment to staying at home, figuring out what we would eat together for three meals a day and how to teach them to be more responsible to tend to the messes that insued from all of us being home all the time. While some things were necessary, like feeding my people, I realzied that some things weren’t as necessary; at least not to the detail I initally thought they were. It was that, doing more than was necessary, that drained me. As a result it also made it hard to rest at night.
On a brighter note, I did experience some life giving things this month.
It is actually a list.
1. "be relentlessly kind to yourself". I am quoting this because it is from a podcast I listen to faithfully called "The Next Right Thing. I believe it was in episode 120: What to do When The World Shuts Down that Emily P. Freeman shared how important it is to practice this during such a unique season in out lives. While I agree, I am also learning that this is a practice I need to do daily not just during a pandemic.
Additionally, in this episode, she shared some more words of wisdom - name what is true. What do I notice around me? I took that step further to ask myself "What am I thankful for?" This is a practice I have tried to develop over the years but it has grown stale. However, after hearing this podcast my energy to consider such things was renewed. I took a few moments to ponder, in the midst of the uncertainty, what could I be thankful for and it helped me see that there are many things in my life that have stayed the same and some that have even improved! A few of those are - more family meals together, the joy of seeing my kids do crafts, play outside together and build amazing forts with almost every blanket, pillow and matress we own. Last is a scripture from Psalm 16:9-11. I won't quote it here but I highly recommend that you take the time to go back and reread it yourself.
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2. Plan in small bits right. I am slowly learning that it actually helps to guide what could come next. There are additional pieces of encouagement in Psalm 16, verses 4-8 and 11 that speak to this truth. I recommed you read them for yourself.
3. Call, text or Marco Polo someone. Both giving and recieving these helped lift my spirits. Often I would think that I didn't have time for them because I had so many tasks on my to do list. However, this month, noting how much better I felt afterwards helped me understand the value of choosing to give my time to it. More to be said about this can be found in Psalm 16:3. :)
4. The reminder to have a daily “rest” time. I am currently writing this blog post as a part of my rest time for today. I have been able to get a lot of writing done during these times. Still, I would like to add that my house is not perfectly peaceful at the moment. My kids have gone from playing "..." and getting whipped cream all over themselves to playing on the piano with deep passion (aka at a pretty loud level) making it challenging to concentrate even while my peaceful guitar plays on Spotify. I will need to go back and read Psalm 16:9 to remind myself to continue this important practice in the midst of the caious. :)
5. Do something for someone. After some inspiration from a friend I have started this with my family. One Friday morning I chose to ...
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6.see what they’re may be to look forward to Ps. 16:11
What’s one thing I want to leave behind going into May?
Leaving the heavy “no’s”/refusal bc my hands are already full of my own worries and fears; walking lighter so I can say yes more to what opportunities may come next How to pull a muscle in your back while carrying laundry and turning out a light at the same time...
Hope Realized - STILL WORKING ON THIS ONE...
In the middle of this unique season I am leanring that I can't rush things that are intended to be finished yet. In response to call from my church's homegroup, I recently began reading a book called “Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family and Church”. I like to sing. Please don’t read that as the ability to sing. I do not posses that! Instead, I have learned the gift of adding sign language to the lyrics of songs. So when I am alone, as I sing freely because I think no one is close enough to hear me, I sometimes also sign along with the songs. It creates another level to express the message the songs provid.
As I read chapter two in this book I was reminded that singing in the sense of worship to God is something that Christians are commanded to do. I will admit that I had a hard time seeing the words “sing” and “command” in the same sentence. I like to sing and have never thought of it as a command. The truth is I don’t want to think of it as a command. When I heard the word “command” I think of something that must be done without the element of desire involved. However, as I kept reading I learned that the Bible says in James 1:25 that this command is given not to bring me into captivity but to give freedom. I hadn’t given much thought to the truth that in connection to the command to sign, when given from God, are meant to be used for our good.
It reminds me of the command you may hear from a doctor that you should exercise to provide your body with the physical input it needs to experience physical benefits; the command to sing is intended to also given to provide our souls with the spiritual input needed to experience spiritual benefits. I am not a doctor and do not claim to have an understanding of all the reasons why one should exercise but I do know that there is great benefit to it for overall physical, mental and emotional health. On another side of the same coin, it is important to note that it is something that should be done not to expect immediate benefits from, though they may occur, but rather to experience benefits later on.
In the reading of this book and verse I was reminded that singing provides the same opportunity. Additionally, the freedom that singing brings also provides cleansing. Just like exercise can clean someone of the physical excess that weighs the body down, singing cleanse the soul from the excess that is weighing it down. While I know that cleansing is ultimately good for me, the process is not always enjoyable. Still, the truth is that the cleansing process cannot happen without first my acceptance to the fact that it is necessary.
As I read and reflected on the command to sing, a song came to mind that I heard recently. It is called “I Shall Believe”. I actually heard Sheryl Crown sing in on a T.V. special in an alternative for the American Country Music Awards. With the requirements to social distance, all the artists performed songs from their homes. I am not a country music fan but I enjoy listening to these performances.
When Sheryl Crown introduced her song she said that during tough times she often turns to her faith. As she sang it reminded me of another song I had heard. After a quick Google search I learned that another musical artist named Matt Brouwer sang a song with the same title. As I researched it more I learned that the majority of their lyrics were the same except for the third line in the first verse.
Sheryl’s version says,
“Come to me now
And lay your hands over me
Even if it's a lie
Say it will be alright
And I shall believe”
Matt’s version says,
“Come to me now
And lay Your hands over me
Will You find me tonight
Say it will be alright
And I will believe
In Shreyl's version calls out for comfort, even if it isn't lasting while Matt's version calls out with confidence because he is asking the faithful One.
Just like I don’t like the idea of the command to sing, I don’t like the idea of singing songs that are not to my liking. This book shares the idea that gratitude is what produces song. When I think about gratitude I think about things I enjoy or like. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary gratitude means to be “appreciative of benefits received”. It is rooted in the Latin word “gratus” which means, “free”. It is in the expression of what I enjoy that I find freedom. What about the things I don’t like? Should I be grateful for those too? Latin gratus — more at GRACE Like exercise, I enjoy singing once I start doing it. When I am riding in the car or working around THS house and it is my choice as to which song to listen to, I can easily be tempted to spend time looking for the perfect song, rather than just listening to and enjoying the music that plays. I’m working on listening. Why do we want to stay in the same place? Why does it take hard things, like a pandemic, to open our eyes to the need to move into a new place? Proverbs 20:27 - The spirit of You is in me, as a simple light like a single candle, used to give light to the inter parts of my heart, deep within to my gut. I honestly felt stuck in many ways in the “old” way of life; wished for a way out, for “permission” to do things differently Sing along the way... As I meditated on things I was https://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-signs/b/believe.htm https://socratic.org/questions/where-is-your-stomach-located https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grateful https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk01qxwhJKx0ypXKf5OAOBqgI1TBn8g%3A1586444183356&source=hp&ei=lzePXru0Ev-qytMP1pyuoAQ&q=what+does+latin+word+gratis&oq=what+does+the+Latin+gratus&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQARgAMggIABAWEAoQHjoECCMQJzoECAAQQzoFCAAQgwE6AggAOgkIIxAnEEYQ-QE6BQgAEJECOgUIIRCgAUoqCBcSJjBnODdnODRnOTdnODlnODJnMTA0Zzc0ZzY2ZzczZzY5ZzBnMTAzSh0IGBIZMGcxZzFnMWcxZzFnMWcxZzFnMWc1ZzBnMlDHBlj0NmCORGgBcAB4AIABgQGIAaAJkgEEMTUuMZgBAKABAaABAqoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab
My COVID-19 Blog - how it all started...
When the idea of starting a blog first came to me I jotted down these thoughts. They aren't very cohesive but the they're real. I'm sharing them for two reasons. I want to be able to look back and remember the development of my writing. I also think it's important for the readers to know how the wrtiting began, so here you go...
Week 1 -
On one hand it feels like someone is trying to turn the Titanic (all the hustle and bustle of daily life is slowly coming to a halt). On the other it feels like I was running a marathon, my heart rate was at a steady, calorie burning level, and something came up in the road that caused me to come to a complete stop; not good for my heart rate. Sudden adjustments like that are unexpected, uncomfortable, unwanted, unprepared for. But what about the kids? How are they doing? On the bright side they're learning technology ediquette (Ex. How to write a clear message to a teacher. A challenges I feel like we're facing - what’s the point of a schedule? As a ridiged, rule following 9 on the Ennegram (ignore that last part if your unfamiliar with the Ennegram), I love routines and scheules (and lists and almost all things organization, until I get overwhelmed. Then I love snacks and sleep more.) Yet, I can’t help but wonder how beneficial they are during this time?
Week 2 - I googled "how to let your kids play in the rain". This idea came to me after writing a familiy member an email expressing my concern of "stay at home order" + rainy day #1. If you can't tell by my Google search, I'm kind of a rule follower. Okay, there's not "kind of" about it. I am a BIG rule follower. The rule is - if it's raining outside the kids should play inside." However, giving the current pandemic most rules are going out the window, including playing inside on a rainy day. My kids must have known I am a strict rule follower because when I told them they could go play out in the rain they were extatic. Ha! While they played I got prepared for the inevitable mess that I knew would ensue. I grabbed towels and composed a plan for them to reenter the house being soaking wet from head to toe. They had a great time and I was learned that sometimes it's ok to let your kids play in the rain.
Week 3 - see weekly review prayer...
Week 4 - see "Whispers of Hope" post
Whispers of Hope
Yesterday was the first day of spring break for the boys. It’s different this year. In case you’re reading this 20 years from now, our world is going through a pandemic. Nothing like this has happened in over one hundred years or so. But enough about that for now, because it is such a life shifting event, I don’t think much explanation is required to explain it’s effects on daily life. I’m don’t want to give time elaborating on what is seen in what can feel like overwhelming waves. Rather I want to share about a new experience that my boys and I had as a result of this historical event.
Since all the typical spring break destinations, both local and abroad, are closed, social distancing is the expiation and a stay at home order is in place, limitations are thick to find a place to go to just breath. Thankfully, I was introduced to a “new to me” park in my local area. New Quarter Park is an amazing little oasis; it has several biking and hiking trails along with several other amenities to enjoy. A unique amenity this place offers is a butterfly habitat. The idea of seeing something like this sounded intriguing on a normal day but more so today because, well I’m not exactly sure why yet. So the boys and I went.
Since this park was new to me, I had a difficult time locating the butterfly habitat. Thankfully, after making a couple of phone calls, a park guide came to meet us and point us in the right direction. As she explained where to go my unawareness of the terrain created anxiety for me. She sounded so confident in description of how to get to where I wanted to go. She sounded so familiar with the area and her description made the walk ahead seem so easy.
I felt like she could sense my uneasiness and did her best to calm me with more than one way of explaining how to get to the destination as well as an attempt to point out some of her directions on my map. Unfortunately I could not receive this aid due to the six feet of social distancing requirements. I felt guilty as I had to step back as she moved towards me. “I don’t want to seem weird but…” I said. She replied, “Oh yeah. Sorry.” With that I had to take her words and the map I held in my hand to forge ahead.
Leading my boys, we began to walk. I didn’t like the trail that the map had planned out. It looked longer than I wanted to walk.. I just wanted to take a few minutes to see some butterflies and move on. It also had a deep curve to it that I was nervous to take. I wondered why it was designed that way. It upset me somewhat. It seemed so unnecessary. It seemed like the trail could have continued on the straight path it initially set out for. It wasn’t until I walked on it that I saw why it was designed that way.
As we came to the curve I wasn’t looking forward to, I noticed that the terrain next to the path grew steep. It was then that I realized that the if path would have continued straight we would have had to walk down a steep grade, risking unnecessary dangers. Rather, the path’s curves lead down a gentle descending curve that eventually came to the destination I desired.
At the beginning of this post I didn’t want to focus to the current pandemic the world is in. There is so much about it that I would prefer not to acknowledge – it’s unpredictability, it’s unfamiliarity, it’s impact on life and death. Specifically this week’s news has posted that it will be the hardest week yet. Not something I want to hear. For my family personally, we have not experienced a great impact. I do not know anyone who has died from this virus but I do know a couple of people who have gotten sick. Even still, their level of sickness was not to the extent that required hospitalization, thankfully! Still, I don’t like that this week is predicted to be the hardest thus far.
This week is also Holy week; the week before Easter. This year we won’t gather in church buildings to celebrate the greatest event in history. This is a mark in history. It is a curve in the path of what has already been laid out for us to journey down.
Like the beginning of the trail I walked on yesterday, I didn’t like the unfamiliarity of it but the idea of seeing the butterflies pushed me on.
That same path has caused me to consider this path were on with this virus. It is new. It is uncomfortable. It requires walking a way that is uncharted (social distancing, staying at home for an unforeseeable amount of time). It is sad. We were not designed to walk alone. But just like I walked on that path, taking one unfamiliar step after another, I began to notice something. Intermittedly I began to see one butterfly go past me. I hadn’t even arrived at the hoped for destination yet. Still, the butterflies showed up unexpectedly. It gave me hope to keep going even though they didn’t show up all at once or even more than one at a time. They flew alone as in small waves of encouragement. “Keep walking. Come this way. Where you seek to go is just ahead.”
As I reflect on this experience of a new trail to hike to simply see some butterflies and experience some fresh air I can’t help but sense God gentle whisper, much like the flutter of a butterflies, as they gently moved past me on the path; “Keep walking. Come this way. Where you seek to go is just ahead.”
As we go into what is predicted to be the hardest week thus far I am reminded of the similar words He speaks in His word “Come to me, all who labor and heavy laded, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn form me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Keep walking down the path, not only will he meet you along the way with gentle whispers of hope but remember you can trust that He is leading you is to a place of rest.
Thanks for giving of your time to read this today,
This is my blog. It's brand new to me. On here you can know me as Paige. I plan to share my thoughts as I process the world around me. I'll add more to this later. Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this!