Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Choices Matter: 31 Days of Intentional Living

From the moment the alarm rouses me from sleep in the morning until my head hits the pillow again at night I am making choices.

From what I'm going to wear to what I'm going to eat to how I will spend my time today, decisions are a necessary part of life and we cannot escape making them.

Some choices we consciously make.

Some are made by our inactions.

We can either coast through each day preoccupied and hurriedly bouncing from one thing to the next,

or we can be intentional about how we live.

In this 31 day series, I will be exploring what it might look like to live with intention — firmly directed and with purpose.

You see, it isn't necessarily about what we are deciding (although that certainly can be part of it), but that we have done it with awareness.

How often do you stop and smell the roses?

Felt the sand between your toes?

When was the last time you did something to love yourself?

Sought beauty in simple things?

Join me as we seek, find, protect, set, capture, and encourage our way through intentional living.

This is the first post in a series, called 31 days of Intentional Living. You can find all the posts in this series here, updated each day in October. Category: Inspirational & Faith

Friday, September 27, 2013

Can You Ever Share Too Much? (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: True

For most of my life I've held it in. Kept it close. Guarded and fiercely protected. Like somehow I knew if I let people see it, hear it, they wouldn't like it. And that mattered back then. What am I saying? It matters even now, although I wish it didn't.

So unsure of myself and memories that haunted. I didn't know how to share those parts of me. So they laid there, just under the surface, peeking out every now and then, hoping no one saw them. Or maybe hoping someone would?

It wasn't until my husband and I were hanging on by a thread with each other that things started to really change. That thread being held by the One would would sew us back together. And I began to see who I was, or perhaps who I was really meant to be.

With abandon I embraced authenticity. Once I started being vulnerable with people it was like I couldn't keep things in anymore. I lived this way for years, sharing and sharing and sharing in the name of being real with people. And it was hard, but it also felt good.

Then, my mother-in-law died of cancer and a close friendship started to fall apart. It was in this painful place that I began to see some things differently. It was like I woke up from a fairytale dream and I suddenly felt very exposed.

I had no filter. In the name of "being real" I shared a lot of me. But I didn't have a line, a stopping place. People got all of me or else it felt like I wasn't being honest. And I realized this wasn't healthy for me or my marriage or my relationships.

There's so much more to say about this, but I ran out of my five minutes. To be continued…

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Field and the Fence (A Story About Limits)

The rusty metal fence was here when we bought the house. A defining line running the perimeter of our small property.

I never thought much of it, but I've been thankful for it.

The enclosure creates a safe and defined area for my kids to play. In a world that often feels scary and out of control, this fenced in backyard offered their first tastes of freedom.

Fences offer us freedom and limits. Without them we wander around unrestricted, yet unsure.

I see the need for a fence in my own life. A boundary to help define me. A simple piece of wood threaded into the eye of another is all I need to see where I end and you begin.

For a few months I have been stockpiling the wood. Posts and split rails of cut Hemlock stacked up high while I learn how to build a fence of my own.

I smell the woody odor of lumber not yet gray and weathered and I wonder if I have all the tools I need to start construction. Such a simple design, but overwhelming for the inexperienced builder.

The fenceless life hasn’t been working well for me. I thought an open field approach was about loving others. I enjoyed having people wander around the tall grasses and array of wildflowers and if they saw something useful I would abundantly share. I thought it was the right thing to do.

But after a while, I started to notice how unhealthy my field was – trampled and used up. I had to change something and a fence, I decided, was the answer. A fence, not to keep people away, but simply a way to define "what I'm responsible for and what I am not responsible for" (Cloud & Townsend, 1992).

A boundary.

So I build. Or I try to, anyway. My fence may not look pretty yet. And a rail may fall and a post may tilt, but I've begun building something where there was nothing. And that's a beautiful thing.

Read more about boundary setting here in this follow-up post.


Acknowledgements: This post is based on knowledge I obtained from reading "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, and When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. If you struggle with setting or accepting boundaries or are interested in understanding how important boundaries are in parenting, on the job, or in relationships, I would highly recommend reading this book.

Linking today with Jennifer at:

Friday, September 20, 2013

She Is More Than What You See (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: She

She stands center stage with a microphone in hand. Her eyes on the page she sings about love and sacrifice and Jesus. She is confident of one thing — that this worship feels like home.

She lifts her head and scans the room. So many faces, familiar. She wonders what they see when they look her way.

She wears this brown hair and pale skin, a smile too wide and a laugh loud, but it covers and hides. Under the confident assurance, beneath the handshaking and the small talk sits an insecure, self-doubter.

She quietly assesses how her worth might measure up. And she talks to fill the awkward space because she's completely unsure.

If you asked her, she would confide. It's not a secret she's unwilling to share. But do you want to know? Does it matter that there's more to the woman you think you see?

She stands alone, watching people talk and connect. She makes a mental list of the things she is not. She feels unsure, left out, but her mind tells her stories of why. Fictional accounts of what others think of her and why they leave her standing there.

It's a game of unworthiness, of accepting made-up thoughts as truth. She hooks her hopes on others and she keeps coming up empty.

She is me.

And she is you.

She is told of her value. She reads the "you are enough" encouragement. But she prays that one day this truth will overtake the record that plays over and over in her own head. And that she might be that woman who scans the noisy, crowded room to find the one standing there alone, convinced she doesn't matter either.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mercy (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Mercy

I remember a game we used to play when I was a kid. It involved weaving fingers with someone else, usually my big brother, and squeezing and twisting until one or the other screamed, "Mercy!"

I guess in a small way that's what mercy looks like — stopping the pain.

Mercy is part of my everyday, giving and receiving it. Grace is its partner and they weave together like those fingers from the game, but they don't squeeze out life, they lift you up.

Up from the pit, from the deserved consequence, from unforgiveness. Mercy extends itself to the one who has done wrong and loves despite it.

It overwhelms a need, my need, and steps into isolation and becomes an unexpected friend.

In a world where expectations are rampant and we feel like people owe us something this mercy finds us when we know we cannot do anything to make it right.

It blesses in the bleakest of circumstances. It seeks us out and covers over.

And the best part of mercy, is it's ours to give. It is a gift.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lessons From a Thistle (#TellHisStory)

The sun had just dropped behind the trees promising a colorful display before it set for the night. The orange light peeked and danced behind the leaves as if inviting me to join in.

I grabbed my camera from the table and walked into the calm, grayness of dusk — a favorite time of mine. I studied the sunflowers, how they reached towards the clouds and I spied on the bumblebees as they gathered pollen side by side.

Photography by Christy Mae, 2013
But the colorful sky continued to beckon, so I slowly walked through the cut grass towards the woods. It was quiet except for the cricket chorus starting its nightly serenade and I breathed in the sweet summer air.

The grasses grew tall in the field and a few cabbage moths flitted around. My eyes tracked one to a thistle growing in the middle of the field and soon my feet followed.

Photography by Christy Mae, 2013
An uninviting, thorny plant if not for the soft, purple tuft of flower growing from its prickly bulb. A nuisance to many, God filled the land with "thorns and thistles" as Adam's punishment (Genesis 3:17-18), but in that moment, it was home.

I noticed a bumblebee sitting on the purple flowerhead and snapped a few pictures. The bee was still, except for the slight rise and fall of his furry body. He was asleep and so were several other bees who found safety and comfort on the top of a thistle plant.

Photography by Christy Mae, 2013
The bees found the most unfriendly plant in the field and made it their resting place. I think there might be a lesson found among the bees and thistles, so I ask.

Maybe it's that God provides, but I think there's more.

Would I listen if God told me to sleep on top of a thistle surrounded by thorns and prickles?

Would I take the provision, even if it didn't look the way I wanted or expected? If to me it didn't appear safe or appealing?

Do I trust that He knows what's best for me?

That night I climb into my bed and pull the covers up under my chin and I imagine it's like the thistle. The world outside is like the thorns, but God has provided me a safe place to rest. It's all I need for that moment and it's certainly more than enough.

Linking today with Jennifer at:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Some Red Boots and a Dream (a five minute friday)

My Five Minute Friday on: Red

I have watched her presentation so many times I might be able to recite it myself.

A passion inspired by pain, lit by the hope of redemption.

Her words meant to encourage and teach. To give Moms and Dads tools to keep their little ones safe. And their older ones, too.

It was God that brought us together in the first place. My own experience with childhood sexual abuse meeting her compassion and love for those who have suffered.

And now, we journey together, spreading a message of protection and prevention, through Rise and Shine Movement, to whoever is willing to listen.

She stands tall in front of the MOPS group, microphone in hand and her trademark red boots on her feet. She knows the importance of her words, how sensitive she needs to be. Because it's likely one of the precious women listening today is a survivor or knows someone who is.

She gives tips and parenting advice. But more than that, she encourages parents to talk to their kids. Not just about the safe topics, but about the ones that give us anxiety. About how surprises are better than having secrets in a family and how kids shouldn't be forced to hug or kiss Aunt Polly or Uncle Joe if they don't want to. And how kids should know they can say no to adults if they make them feel uncomfortable.

I watch her with pride recalling the path that brought her behind the podium. How God gave her words for a children's book that was many, many years in the making. And how the right illustrator and the right videographer/editor came together to create a living, breathing version of the book so parents could watch it online for free with their kids.

I don't know where God is taking Rise and Shine Movement. And I don't know the amazing ways He will use this ministry to help others.

But I'm following those red boots and a dream and I hope you might, too.

Linking today with Lisa-Jo…
Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Because God Totally Has You (a #TellHisStory)

It would be pin-drop silent here if not for the click-clicking of a nail gun from a neighbor's porch construction. It's been an incredible summer, but it marched onward, as it does. And today is the first day of a new school year.

Oh, the peace and serenity of laying down my Momma hat for a few hours and finding myself again. What do I do first? And as I ponder this, I think about how difficult this morning was and I taste the bittersweetness of this child-free moment.

In what can only be described as God's wonderful sense of humor, our two children remarkably demonstrate the personality characteristics of the opposite gender parent. That means my son, takes after me (bless his heart).

Yes, I have genetically passed down my introverted nature, my love of the comfort and safety of home, and a desire to avoid transitions and change.

I can remember the swells of anxiety when I was a child anytime I was forced to leave the comfort of my family. And I see it now, when I look into the sad eyes of my son as the inevitable school day approaches.

Last night, we were in survival mode determined to stave off a meltdown and this Bible verse from Deuteronomy 31:8 became the inspiration for a "pep talk" on how God totally has him.

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you. Do not be afraid."
Anxiety breeds in the unknown, which is why going into middle school feels so intimidating. No amount of planning or preparing can guarantee what will meet him as he steps through those double doors. But we don't have to be afraid.

Wherever we go, we can trust that He has prepared the way and will provide what we need when we get there. It may not always look like we imagined it. And there are often obstacles encountered along the way.

What a story God is weaving in this eleven year-old's heart as he learns how to step out in faith, with courage.

As a new walker, my son asked me to walk with him to school this morning. Originally, he wanted me to take him all the way to the front doors. But as we approached the crosswalk leading to the school's parking lot he looked at me and said, "maybe I can go the rest of the way myself. It might be harder to leave you at the door." And off he went, just him with Him.

I wrestled with the emotions of that moment and through tear-filled eyes, I let him go.

God totally has him.

Linking today with Jennifer at:
Related Posts with Thumbnails