Last summer our family of five loaded ourselves and a ridiculous amount of luggage into our mini van and headed out West.
We set out on a road trip adventure to meet up with some of our dearest friends. It was a week full of hiking, sunshine, and laughter and was exactly what my soul needed after those uncertain first few months of the pandemic.
Mixed somewhere in the heap of things we had packed was my Bible. At home when I am in my routine, I rarely skip a beat when it comes to spending time with God. Vacations however, are an entirely different story. Although I packed my quiet time supplies with every intention to get up early before our long list of daily activities began, I wasn’t exactly batting a thousand by the week’s end. In fact, my Bible never even saw the light of day.
I overheard my son trying to describe to my husband a place that makes him feel happy and in his element. When words failed him, he finally sighed and said “Well, you know, it’s exactly how Mom feels about the beach. It’s her happy place.”
I am in the process of getting rid of roughly half of what I own.
Half of our furniture has been sold. Half of the kid’s toys have been given away. Our storage bins of household decor have been trimmed down to one. I’ve let go of old letters, broken Barbie dolls from my childhood, and my bulky assortment of bridesmaid dresses tucked in the back corner of my closet.
I’ve laughed in the process, reminisced, and even shed a tear or two along the way. I have always claimed that “things” do not define me- that I am not attached and they don’t play a defining role in my happiness. That mindset works until the spot where the trampoline sat for summers on end is now an empty space in the back corner of the yard, or that hand-built family piece pulls away in the back of a truck.
Power is a loaded word that can bring many different thoughts to mind. Maybe you think of a superhero with incredible strength and ability or a huge machine hard at work. Maybe you think of a lightning bolt illuminating the night sky or the simple flip of a switch that eliminates darkness. The word may bring to mind an influential person or makes you think of God. Or perhaps your life feels like a musical, and the 90’s song lyrics “I’ve Got the Power” has been playing in your mind since I mentioned the word.
Not many of us think of ourselves when we hear the word power. Instead, we feel tired, worn out, and overwhelmed. Our days are filled with cups of coffee and sighs of discontentment as we reach for a feeling of control over our families, jobs, and nation to no avail.
In a way, it’s as though we have given up and thrown in the towel as the illusion of control plays out in our day to day. Certainly power is not a word that describes us.
It’s not very often that having to make a big decision is easy. Most of the time, it leaves me feeling like a deer caught in headlights with eyes wide open and frozen in time, unable to make a move. As a family, we recently walked through just that.
As you may have already heard, our family has decided we are giving up everything that is comfortable and familiar to us, packing up, and heading South. We will be moving down to Clarkston, Georgia for the next three years to set up a youth ministry program for the refugee population that lives there. We will be partnering with an organization called Envision Atlanta. Technically, we will be missionaries.
I had planned to make the focus of this blog post about how to maximize your summer hopes and dreams as an all-star mom, but I have never felt so ill-prepared and unenthused as I do heading into summer this year.
My hair stood on end on a beautiful 80 degree day. This wasn’t the first time it had happened that week. On day nine of what I had been referring to as the “trip of a lifetime” to Israel, I found myself standing in an empty tomb.
This wasn’t just any tomb but was the suspected tomb of Jesus- the place where the burial and resurrection took place. I had seen it on flannel boards and raised my hands in remembrance of it with the Easter Sunday choir over the years, but to stand in that place was a powerful reminder of the cornerstone of my identity and faith. The spiritual significance of the moment sunk deep into my being…..
There has been a slow stirring in my soul over the past few years to investigate what it might be like to simplify. In the midst of a life that doesn’t seem to slow down, I felt drawn to minimize my things, time, and space, so I awkwardly jumped in headfirst.
Last fall I decided to wear a total of 30 clothing items for a solid three months straight. I spent hours researching strategy and then proceeded to pull my closet apart and reason over every piece of clothing I owned. Much to my surprise, I made it a full 3 months in the same 30 items, and in the end, I had some really positive take-aways.
I want to be happy for her, really I do, but as I scroll past her latest social media post a look of criticism spreads across my face. This week her children smile at me in their perfectly coordinated outfits with a beautiful oceanside view in the background. Last week I couldn’t contain my eye rolls as I scrolled through her son’s over-the top perfectly themed Birthday celebration complete with a homemade 3 layer cake.
Logic tells me that anything can be made to look a certain way through a camera’s lens, but doubt forms and jealousy grows… just a small seed at first, but my collection of these seeds seems to be growing lately and I don’t like what it is building inside of me.
God’s love is unconditional. Insert yawn here. We have heard that a thousand and one times as the words to Jesus Loves Me were etched into our young minds before most of us were old enough to form full sentences.
We nod our heads, throw out a quick “amen” and carry on with our day.
It’s old news even to a newer believer. I mean, of course God loves me and of course it’s a no-matter-what kind of deal. Unconditional, affection without any limitations. And I claim this unfathomably deep love from God to little old me.
Chances are very high that my neighbors have seen me in my underwear. In my defense, I was born and raised just outside of town. When I told people where I lived, it was often met with “Oh, out there” as though it was out in the middle of nowhere. Privacy was not something we had to give much thought to and that habit of closing the blinds (which I obviously never learned) continues to be a tricky task for me to remember now that I find myself living smack dab in the middle of the city. (Sorry neighbors!)