Sea (Day 29)

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Day 29 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Sea

GO

The morning started rough. Everyone seemed irritated and off balance. We were running a bit behind schedule. I was feeling a bit grumbly as I did my usual post-breakfast clean up run through the house: pick up stray toys, make sure the boys have put away tooth brushes and picked up pj’s, wipe down the dining room table, determine whether the floor needs to be swept, open curtains and blinds to let in the light.

As I looked out the windows I was knocked breathless by the wonder. A sea of bright light is setting the autumn trees a blaze. Against the dark shadows that lurk in the trees the red and yellow leaves are shining like gold. The very air shimmers. The color shines more brilliant because of the darkness that surrounds it. Everything flames with glory.

What can I do but stand and take it all in?

I call the boys and together we stand on our front step, dazzled.

The moment slips by as the sun crosses the tree line. We continue our day thankful for the glimpse of the flame of the divine in the grey sea of our ordinary moments.

STOP

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I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

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Hope (Day 28)

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Day 28 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Hope

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I know I am a day or two behind. That’s okay. Some days the words just don’t come. I sit and stare at the screen and everything that comes into my head seems silly or cliche or trite or just plain dumb. Sometimes I simply don’t have time to flesh out a thought and so it seems best to let it lie.

Hope is one of those words. There is just so much there. I have been mulling it over for days and it remains illusive. And maybe that is a good illustration of hope. Hope is an expectation, a desire. Expectations and desires change. We hope things will happen a certain way, and then they don’t. We expect things from people and they don’t live up to that expectation. We see bad things happen to good people and the idea of hope seems like a joke.

But to hope is also to put your trust in something. Putting trust in our own expectations and desires can be dangerous because we will be let down. The Bible speaks often of hoping in God, of the hope we have within us. This hope holds us fast when the hope of our temporal expectations and desires shift and disappoint. God doesn’t change. His “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” is what we hope in. Continuing to hope in the darkest of times (like Job) seems crazy to those who don’t know this Love. Without the knowledge of this Love hope seems fragile and fickle.

It’s time to stop and I don’t know how to wrap this up. I am rambling.

The world seems a very dark place these days. Friends are walking through terrible trials. The news is full of a world hurting and breaking and groaning. To speak of hope seems like a silly thing.

And yet…hope is there…sometimes just a flicker…

STOP

“Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” is a phrase in the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It has become an often repeated phrase in our house.  

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I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

Perhaps (Day 27)

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Day 27 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Perhaps

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Three years ago a perhaps that we had been preparing our hearts for didn’t happen. Two sweet, energetic children who were perhaps (we were told probably) going to join our family – didn’t. A quick phone call and just like that we were expected to move on. Grief in that instance seemed silly (after all we had only met them a handful of times and shouldn’t we be happy that they had gone back to their birth family?) but it was a reality.

I grieve the loss of two children every year in the fall. This fall she would be 9 and he would be 8. What would their interests be? What would bring them joy? Are they safe? Do they have what they need? Are they loved? I grieve the loss of their bright eyes and happy chatter and their little arms encircling my waist in a hug. I grieve the loss of the perhaps that our family might have been – six seats around the table instead of four, four little ones to tuck in at night, a daughter who I could have read “Anne of Green Gables” to, another son to add to the wild chaos that is boys. I don’t allow myself to dwell on the picture of what our family could be with them in it for too long. It hurts and feels self-indulgent at the same time.

Perhaps I will see them again some day. Perhaps I will get to know what happened with their lives. Most likely I never will, and that hurt is deep. Perhaps my constant prayers are covering them and keeping them. I hope so, since my arms can’t.

STOP

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I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

Whisper (Day 26)

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My running shadow. 

Day 26 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Whisper

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Voices whisper in my head telling me I am not good enough, telling me I am failing, telling me that I am not worthy of love. I am learning to talk back to those whispers.

One of my tools is running. As I challenge my body, I challenge my mind. I get stronger and better at controlling what voices whisper to me.

The first mile is always a challenge. My legs burn and my lungs struggle to gulp air. I say to myself, “I can do this. This discomfort is temporary. In just a few minutes I will hit the sweet spot and be thankful that I started.”

The second mile is my favorite. My pace has found its rhythm and my muscles are no longer tight. My lungs fill with fresh air and I am able to look around me and enjoy the scenery. I am full of energy. I notice the beauty around me in the color of the fall leaves, or the sun rising over the parking lot. I say to myself, “You are loved. You are noticed.”

The third mile and I begin to slow a little, getting a bit tired but I have a goal of more than 3 miles so I start talking to myself, “You are strong. Keep your goal in mind. You know you want to post your accomplishment in your Facebook exercise accountability group so keep going.”

The final mile of my run is a battle between the voice whispering at me to stop and the one telling me to finish up strong. I say, “Do not stop. You are so close to your goal. You will feel so proud of yourself when you are done. Just keep going.”

It isn’t easy to take control of those negative whispers that cloud my mind and effect my actions. But I am getting better at it. I am getting better at fighting back with God’s Word and speaking back to those whispers that are lies.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

STOP

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I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

Crash (Day 25)

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Day 25 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Crash

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I have a son with and iron will. I am pretty stubborn myself. There were times when I believed the crash of two wills colliding would damage our relationship forever.

There were people who thought I was too tough on him and others who thought I wasn’t tough enough.

There were nights when I went to bed in tears after a day of countless relentless battles of the will. The guilt I felt over my mothering of this child was immense. I was sure I wanted to teach him self-discipline and respect for others, but I thought the process might cause serious harm to our relationship.

So I prayed. I wept. I begged God to show me how to guide this young soul I had been gifted with. I asked the Holy Spirit to soften my will where necessary and strengthen it when needed. Above all I begged God to show me that we could have a positive relationship, despite our clashes of will.

(My time is up but I am going to keep going.)

Can I tell you that God is answering my prayer beyond my wildest imaginings? We are enjoying each other! We laugh and joke and the other day I even got a spontaneous hug! I have recently watched this boy tenderly pay attention to and play with children years younger than him. I have watched him control his temper. I have watched him exercise self-control and show genuine respect toward other people.

As God changed my heart, softening my will and taking away much of the anger in my heart, He also changed the heart of my son. Our clashes are few and far between now. I don’t know what the future holds but I know I can continue to trust God to guide and lead us. I can trust the Holy Spirit to work because he loves us and cares about us.

STOP

I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

Silence (Day 24)

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Day 24 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Silence

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Silence can be deadly.

Our silence stretches. A wall between us. A barrier that gets more difficult to penetrate the longer it is allowed to linger. We have brief, businesslike exchanges to keep the family running but the conversation that brings connection and emotional intimacy is missing. It’s not always because we are mad at each other, often we are just busy or distracted. And then we look up to realize our joy in each other is gone.

So with God. I wonder why He is silent. Why my day feels dry. Why I feel irritable and off balance. And He gently asks me, “When was the last time you spoke to me, daughter?” When was the last time I lingered over His Words? When was the last time I sought to be in His presence because it brought me joy?

It takes extra effort to break the silence. It is work to initiate the conversation that goes deeper than the minutia of the day. It takes a sacrifice of time and attention, turning my eyes and mind from the things that distract me. The gift is always restored intimacy and that is always worth it.

STOP

I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

Joy (Day 23)

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Day 23 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Joy

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I was asked recently what were things I do that would bring me joy.

And I had no answer.

What do I do that brings me joy? What things make me feel like I am fulfilling the nature of who God called me to be? I have spent a lot of time thinking about that lately.

Some of the circles that I have been in and studied in made joy sound like something to be avoided. To pursue joy was to be selfish and self serving. It was kind of a Puritan mindset that the more miserable you were the more godly you were.

Yet the Bible talks about joy. There are so many references to shouts of joy, songs of joy, joy coming after sorrow, the joy of the Lord, joy among Gods people, joy in His presence. Joy is created by God and we were created to feel joy in our deepest being.

I don’t know. I am still trying to answer the original question. I am coming out of the most physically intense stages of parenting. The fog of sleepless nights and constantly meeting physical needs is starting to recede. I am beginning the process of finding out who this new “Sarah” is. I have time to discover again what brings me joy apart from the parenting of my children.

Today I found joy in lacing up my running shoes and pounding out some miles around the track. No one is more astonished than me that running brings me joy.

Who knows what else I will discover about myself?

STOP

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Wave (Day 21)

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Day 21 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Wave

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I wake in the pre-dawn hours. I am wrenched from sleep by my body being invaded by wave upon wave of strange feeling. I try not to feel defeated, knowing what is to come in the next few hours; inability to sleep, nausea, total depletion of energy that will keep me in bed until lunch time. My plans for the day will have to be cancelled or changed.

I was going through a time where my body was constantly betraying me and not only the physical symptoms, but the lack of control, was wearying.

I couldn’t explain these waves clearly enough to a physician. I went to multiple doctors and had many tests. I could never find the right words for the physical sensations of the waves that would wake me in the night.

I am feeling much better these days. There is still no clear explanation of what was going on with my body during that time. Maybe my symptoms stemmed from a physical problem. Maybe I was having some emotional issues. Maybe I was having a combination of both. Regardless, God had lessons for me to learn. Lessons of trust, and taking each day at a time. Lessons of letting others care for me. Lessons of stepping back and letting go and learning that it’s okay to say “no.” Lessons of listening to my body, and listening to my heart, and learning to take care of both.

It’s been a long time since I have felt the waves. But I hope the lessons I learned stick around.

STOP

I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

Temporary (Day 20)

I am stuck. I have a lot of things on my mind and words just don’t seem to come. There are big things happening and little things happening and people who are really hurting and I know that this life is just a breath and that we are not guaranteed the next one and the world just keeps on spinning and somehow I know there is light even in the darkest of places. But I don’t know how to write about all that yet. So I am copying and pasting a post I wrote 3 years ago.:

Day 20 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Temporary

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The picture that inspired the original post in October 2012 and my boys now. 

Ya’ll. Honestly. I look at these pictures and all the cliches I have ever heard about mothering flood my thoughts. When the boys were little and the days seemed never ending, and just the act of getting a shower seemed like a major accomplishment, and women would say to me, “Enjoy these days! They are precious. They will be gone too quickly.” I would roll my eyes and sigh deep. I swore never to say that to a young mother with multiple little ones. But I did, just yesterday.

Yesterday morning my kids picked out these clothes. I was surprised because letting my kids pick out their own clothes means I never know what exactly they will end up with. There they were all tucked in and matching and so danged grown up looking. I took pictures before we headed off to church. I stood in the sanctuary talking to a young mother. She was tired. And overwhelmed. I was doing my best to speak grace and truth to her. To encourage. Her little one started smiling at me. He was plump and happy. The words just slipped out, the cliche, “Enjoy these days! They will be gone before you know it.” I felt like rolling my eyes at myself.

What I wish I had said was:  “I know you don’t believe this now, but the days do pass and before you know it they are gone. Try to treasure them. In the midst of the exhaustion and frustration find those moments that will evaporate all too quickly. Because believe it or not, as much as you can’t imagine it now, there will come a day when you don’t really remember his little baby smell. Or how he curls up into you to fall asleep.Ask God to show you how to enjoy these all consuming little years, instead of just trying to survive them. They will shape you in ways you never imagined. You will feel like you are losing yourself, yet becoming your truest self at the same time. And one day you will realize that your kids have spent the whole morning playing together without needing you and you will rejoice and mourn just a little bit.”

I wish I had said that to her because I wish I had been able to do that myself.

STOP

I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

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Honor (Day 19)

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The man I chose to marry deserves my honor and respect.

Day 19 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Honor

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One simple tip I received before my marriage that I have found to be so helpful:

Never speak disrespectfully about your husband to anyone. Ever.

Once those words of dishonor and disrespect come out of your mouth they take on a life of their own. Once those words are spoken aloud they increase discontent in you, they feed the feelings of dissatisfaction. They cause the person you spoke them to to view your husband with a measure of contempt.

It’s just not worth it.

Does this mean that my husband has never angered me or that I have never had to ask a friend for advice about a marital issue? No. It is possible to hash through a problem or ask a friends advice without using words, phrases, or tones that convey dishonor. I just have to choose my words more carefully instead of verbally vomiting out every little thing I am thinking. It means that in discussing a problem I have had to exercise self-control, acknowledge my role in the problem more quickly, and view my husband with good intentions rather than negative ones. All of those things are helpful to the resolution of conflict.

Words have great power. They can bring honor or dishonor. They can build up or they can tear down. We get to choose how to use them.

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I am participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge. Click here to see all posts in this series.

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