Freeze Warning

A snowflake icon pops up on my smartphone. A freeze warning. The warning is obviously in regards to sensitive vegetation and crops left unprotected.

I am choosing to take a different perspective on the freeze warning.

This is the final full day of our vacation. We have had two full busy days of hiking, exploring, shopping, and tourist stuff. They have been very good days and a nice way to reconnect on our 20th anniversary getaway.

Today, though, sans four wheel drive with steep mountain roads, we will heed the warning to freeze and stay inside.

Outside the cabin, the snow falls gently and lightly. Nature cares not that it is the second day of spring. The view is gray and hazy. We see trees blanketed in white, but the view of the distant mountain tops is obscured by this overhanging haze.

So, this is what a snow day feels like?

Days of my childhood come flooding back to me. I remember the excitement of hearing the announcement that school has closed. As an adult with a career in long term care, there are no snow days. Waking up to snow means taking a deep breath, hurrying in my morning routine, and praying for safety and protection from the elements as I prepare to make a sometimes treacherous drive into work.

Today’s snow day is a gift. I will gladly accept this freeze warning as an opportunity to be still. The majesty of the white splendor is breathtaking. Reading by the fireplace, journaling, card games and movies…there is no place I must go.

Yes, today is a welcomed reprieve from the busyness of everyday life which will all too soon beckon again.

Today is a day to relish in being still. Sometimes what seems like an annoyance (the snow on the last day of vacation) can be a blessing (a day to relax and be still) depending on our perspective.

Have you ever experienced a blessing in an unlikely experience?

Advertisements

Hiding

I have had an emotionally challenging week. I didn’t realize that I would struggle so much this week. The impact of everything and my emotional response blindsided me.

Let me back up a bit and fill in a few details…I lost a high school classmate and friend very unexpectedly in a car accident. I had a difficult interaction with someone this week. My daughter went back to college after winter break and I already know she will not be home for the summer. Long days at work equal exhaustion.

I slept in today on this Saturday morning. I rarely sleep in. My husband brought me coffee to bed and I am lingering for a bit before starting my day which affords me time to reflect.

My week has made me really think about this…how often do we hide behind masks? We smile. We tell the world we are fine. We push on through the challenges of our jobs and lives.

This is all great. Having a spirit that can persevere through whatever life brings is great. I call myself a fighter, and I am, but sometimes we need to take off those masks and stop hiding behind them.

Sometimes, we need to be transparent and vulnerable. Not with everyone. It feels risky to take off those masks. Some people honestly won’t care what is behind them. We want to protect our vulnerable self.

Prayer is so powerful. I believe God wants us to be real, definitely with Him. I encourage you to read the Psalms. So much raw emotion is poured out to God in those Psalms. I also believe God cares about us and wants us to feel the freedom to be vulnerable and transparent. I believe He places safe people in our lives. I had some very powerful conversations this week with safe people in my life. God takes care of us through the love of others.

I also have been reflecting on the ways others around me hide behind their own masks. I have seen two situations this week where people have broken down, the weight of hiding behind the masks suddenly too much. 

I encourage us all to….

1. Regularly read the Psalms and share our own raw emotions with God.

2. Pray for those safe people in our lives.

3. Just be kind… everyone has a story and some hide more behind masks than others.

Last night I heard this song … If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli. Sometimes, we just need to be real. 

It’s a new year. Let’s come out of hiding and strive to be better versions of ourselves and to love more genuinely.

What helps you when you feel like hiding?

Patient Endurance

It’s the time of year when many people become reflective. We look back at all we have accomplished, and we look forward to all that is ahead. 

I am one of those people. I have my words and my verses. This particular year started off with a family vacation to Florida which provided time for reflection. It was also filled with expectations, and the lessons when these expectations were not met. 

It was as though God was reminding me…you may have your agenda, but I have a greater purpose.

Sometimes, we are humbled.

Vacation provided multiple such moments…

* Since the rental car was in my name, I had to do all the driving and endure my children’s backseat driving. Usually, Dad does the driving. My husband and I switched our usual roles of driver and navigator.

* Legoland was definitely geared towards younger children, but we shared  laughter over my husband and son being stuck on a ride. We all enjoyed the ski show and a peaceful walk through Cypress Gardens. 

* The hood of our rental car was full of paint scratches after Legoland. I am grateful that we purchased the damage protection plan.

* The kindness of strangers was revealed during our airport experience.

 * Craving pizza, our GPS led us to a gas station where the windows were barred.  Needless to say, we traveled back to the hotel and ordered pizza.

Vacation is like that…the anticipation and the expectations sometimes don’t match the actual experiences. 

Nevertheless, we had a great time on vacation. I was reminded so many times to let go of my expectations and to be present and open to the moment. Joy is a choice.

Life is like this especially in the dawn of a new year. I look forward with expectancy to the year ahead but I will be careful to not let my own expectations and agenda get in the way of God’s greater purpose.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. Hebrews 10:36 NLT

The Moments…

Some things are almost certain as a mom of boys.

  1. You will at some point experience the excruciating pain of stepping barefoot on a Lego.
  2. You will find the most random of things in pants pockets when you do laundry.
  3. You will be caught off guard from an unexpected Nerf gun dart when you least expect it.
  4. You will hear yourself asking…did you put on deodorant… daily in those preteen and even into teen years.
  5. Boys do things to surprise you. Often.

As I sit here and linger for just a few more minutes enjoying the tree, I focus not on the fact that my son will awake in an hour asking where he left his shoes but rather on the moments from the weekend that make me go wow. 

My son went to the basement this weekend and brought up all the Christmas decorations without being asked. He just did it. He started decorating and patiently waited for me to finish what I was doing so I could help. Then, he cleaned up and took it all back downstairs.

His college age sister had to buy a car this weekend. They sat beside each other in the front as my husband and I sat in the back as we drove around to see Christmas lights. My husband leaned over and whispered to me, “Our children are getting along.” Our son later declared he was going to work really hard when he was old enough to get a job so he could buy a nice car like his sister.

My little chef made a double layer cake yesterday. He improvised. Our cake pans were two different sizes. Oops!

As I dropped off a dear 93 year old lady whom I take to church every Sunday, she hugged me tightly and told me to enjoy every moment with my children. “Don’t wish the moments away. Even the hard ones. They go by so quickly.”

As we head into the Christmas season, may we stay focused on the things that matter. Let’s not be so busy that we miss the special things our children do, the whisprered words of our spouses, the wisdom from dear friends, and the greatest Gift of the season…our Savior Jesus Christ.

Don’t wish the moments away, even the hard ones.

What are your favorite things about this time of year?

Sometimes, Grace isn’t so easy…

Maybe it’s the rainy day. Or maybe it’s because I am tired and haven’t been sleeping well.

Or maybe sometimes, grace isn’t so easy.

I am writing, reflecting on grace, but here I am right now in this moment finding myself wondering…why is this so hard?

Why is it so hard for me to accept the gift of grace from others? And even more so, why is it so hard for me to extend grace to myself?

I am quiet tonight. Reflective. 

Unexpected grace extended to me when really I wasn’t expecting it. It would have been easier for me to hear…you messed up, you made a mistake, how could you not….you get the idea.

It is so much more difficult for me to receive grace from others than it is for me to extend it.

And extending it to myself? Even more difficult.

It is easy to slip back into the performance perfection based expectations I hold of myself.

This often seems to happen to me as I am in the midst of something bigger than myself.

This morning, I read this: “Here is the great irony about opportunities. They usually come disguised as insurmountable problems.” Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly the place to find grace. Even if it isn’t so easy.

Do you find it hard to accept grace?

Permission to Rest

Am I the only person who struggles with being still? Somehow, I don’t think so.

I have so much difficulty with doing nothing. By nature, I am a very self disciplined, driven individual. The concept of taking time for myself does not come naturally for me.

Sometimes, I can do a lazy Saturday morning. I use this time to write and move at my own pace. I enjoy those mornings, but I still measure them by what I accomplish during that time.

Moments of doing nothing? Of being completely still? Those moments are so important for me to recharge and catch my breath. I don’t allow for them often enough in my life. Usually, it is when I feel myself becoming unraveled that I realize that I really need to rest.

Being still is a gift we give ourselves. Being still before God, undistracted in His presence…a gift we can give Him.

Today, rest in the grace of giving yourself permission to rest. We all need to take moments to pause and reflect.

How can you make this time? Will you?

Grace Beyond the Lines

Recently, at a writing conference, the speaker talked about how we as children learn these beliefs about ourselves and  then we carry them into our adult lives.

As he spoke, an experience from third grade popped back in my mind. I had completed a worksheet for English. The content was absolutely one hundred percent correct; however, I had not stayed within the lines. My freshly learned cursive writing had extended beyond the given lines. I was required to stay inside from recess and fix my “mistake.” For a quiet, shy young someone who already aimed to do the right thing, this only fed into my drive for perfection.

This perfectionism has been a constant companion into adult life. It drives my performance, my anxiety, and my fears.

Last fall, God really began unravelling some of this root of the need for perfection. It has been a slow unravelling, but I no longer believe that perfection is the goal.

At work, we talk about redefining success as progress not perfection. I may not like mistakes, but I can embrace them as part of my growth.

Today, I am grateful for the grace of second chances. I am grateful for the freedom to not be perfect. When we walk in His strength, His grace is sufficient.

Sometimes, following a God given dream involves taking a risk. You may just have to look, write, or walk beyond those “safe” lines. What the world views as a mistake may just be the very path He has set before you. Pray, listen, and trust.