Five Minute Friday: Purpose

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On Friday’s I like to link up with a group of writers who take five minutes to simply sit and free write. No over thinking, no editing, no waiting for perfection before hitting publish.

Today’s Prompt: Purpose

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There is a lot of talk among women my age about “purpose.” I don’t know if the generations of women before us felt this way, but in this current internet age where we can be voyeurs into peoples lives via blogs, Instagram, and Facebook the sense of not having a larger purpose to fulfill seems to loom large. Just this past week in one of the Facebook groups I am in there were two different conversation threads started by women who felt like their lives were just ordinary and they weren’t doing anything meaningful.

Not too long ago I was crippled by the idea that I wasn’t living out my purpose for God in the way that He expected of me. My ordinary, safe, life seemed too simple and surely God wanted more from me.

The Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Meaning: what is your purpose?

And answers: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

How? How do we do this? There is no clear answer. We are all different and our lives and struggles are different. For me, I work hard to be present in the current moment. I try to do my best in the things that God has given me to do for today: schooling my children, loving my husband, working in our church office, being a reliable friend. I try to notice God’s presence in the most mundane and ordinary of moments; our breakfast conversation, the beauty of our neighborhood, even the moment when I am in the midst of dealing with sibling fights.

Ultimately my pre-occupation with my purpose led to anxiety and totally missing the joy and purpose that God had already given me. It’s not a mistake that He put me where I am and gave me the life I have. That knowledge brings freedom to enjoy life one moment at a time and trust that even my most mundane and ordinary of days will bring glory.

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Five Minute Friday: Safe

It’s Friday. I have a few things I am writing that are sitting in my drafts folder but I can’t seem to get a handle on them. So it’s a relief to have a time to set my timer and just write for five minutes.

This week’s prompt: Safe

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As the sun rises I am safe and snug. My house is warm. My children sleep deep, tucked in their beds. My steady husband is driving country roads to work. I savor the still morning hours knowing that our day will unfold with the usual daily routine.

This safety and security is not something I deserve. It is a privilege. It is a gift. I have to fight feeling guilty for it, knowing that there are many today who do not have this calm peace of mind that I take for granted.

I can brood over world issues. I can become anxious thinking of all the problems in my community and the world. I worry that I am not doing enough. So I focus on what is in front of me for this day: holding my temper with my children, nurturing their spiritual selves as well as their physical selves, teaching them to think and question, broadening their minds and their view of the world and the people in it, showing them how to give and receive grace. I can create a home environment of safety and welcome and generosity. It seems small. But it’s what I have been given.

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Five Minute Friday: Control & A Challenge

It’s time for Five Minute Friday. I really was hoping to write more often in this new year, but I just haven’t made myself do it. So I fall back to Friday’s when I know I can set aside five minutes to just free write. It’s something.

This weeks prompt: Control

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It’s a Friday morning and I curl up on my couch with steaming cup of coffee, computer, books, and journal at hand. I cherish my Friday mornings because they are the one free day we have, a whole blank day on the calendar. I am guaranteed some solitude before the kids get up and our day begins. I can stay comfy in my pjs under my favorite blanket and spend a few quiet morning hours as I please.

At 7 am I hear talking from the kids room. I groan inwardly. At 7:20 I hear thumping and banging. I gear myself up for the inevitable. At 7:45 there are raised voices as an argument breaks out and I know I have to intervene.

This was not how I wanted my morning to go. So, I do the mature thing and go in with righteous indignation. I berate and scold and raise my voice a few notches. I point out my kids selfishness and lack of self control. I throw out accusations between teeth clenched with anger.

Control. I battle it every day. I want what I want, how I want, when I want. The tighter I grip on to my control the more I lose the battle with my self-control.

I am challenging myself to a week of holding my tongue when the lectures want to spill out. I am challenging myself to a week of noticing the good things my kids do instead of harping on the things that need improvement. If I desire to encourage self-control in my kids, then I need to set the example. I’ll check back in next Friday!

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Check out the other Five Minute Friday writers at the link up below!

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Five Minute Friday: Middle

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On Friday I link up with other writers who write for five minutes flat. Not too much thinking, no editing, just letting the thoughts flow.

Today’s prompt: Middle

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I have seen the world from many angles. I have been the person on the outside, the person who couldn’t understand the language, the person who was completely different from all the people around her. I have always been the person on the outside trying to size up a situation and shifting myself to fit within it. I have always been the person who wanted to be average and normal. But I am not.

As I age I am realizing that this constant state of discomfort is a gift. It helps me see the middle. It keeps me from extremes. It has given me the skill of being able to see situations from multiple perspectives. I can compromise. I can see that there can be multiple ways to come to the same outcome. I can play devil’s advocate and delve beneath the surface of an issue. I can change my mind. I can form friendships with people who are different than me.

The problem is that this skill set has sometimes been viewed as negative in the Christian circles that I am in. The drumbeat of “truth” and “right” is loud and lock-step. Questioning or dissent have not always been encouraged. Varying perspective has not been welcomed. The ability to see grey instead of black and white has not always been seen as an asset. Some of my most uncomfortable moments have been in the place that is also my most loved and secure place.

Yet, I love Christ and His church. I cannot walk away. I believe my life experiences and skills are no mistake. So I continue to try and navigate the middle with grace and love because I believe that my perspective from the middle is needed, and also because I suspect I am not alone.

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Five Minute Friday: Connect

In an attempt to get myself writing more I am re-joining Five Minute Friday. A weekly chance to set my timer and just write – no editing, no over thinking. You can head over to Katie’s Heading Home blog to check out writing on this week’s prompt:

Connect

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You want to know something about me? Connecting frightens me. Well, that is a bit melodramatic. My growing up life was rich and wonderful and full of interesting things. But, there was a lot of coming and going. People came and went. Connections happened quickly and went deeply and then were just as suddenly gone. Connection means great joy and fun but also great pain. This is a fact of missionary life.

So, I love to connect. I do. People are fascinating and interesting (and irritating). But, I am also pretty fiercely self-reliant and independent. So staying connected for the long haul is more of a challenge. It doesn’t come naturally to me to help out, lean in, show up on your door step. I don’t want to intrude. I don’t want to be a bother. I have my own life to get on with. Sometimes it is easier to keep connections shallow and tenuous.

I have now lived in the same area and been in the same community for 20 years. This surprises me every time I think about it because I still feel transient. But, I have friends that I have known, in daily life, for 20 years now. Our children are growing up together. We are in the stage of life where really difficult things have and are happening and we are learning how to love each other well through those things. Our bonds are getting stronger through the long term sharing of daily life. The seasons, the changes, the cycles are all connecting us as they mature us. I feel rich. I am grateful. And maybe I don’t need to fear connecting any more.

Stop

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Five Minute Friday: Seasons

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Five Minute Friday is a challenge to write for 5 mintes. No over thinking. No editing. No worrying about it being perfect before hitting publish. Just 5 minutes to write.

This weeks prompt: Seasons

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I love the changing of the the seasons. It satisfies something in me. It is a physical reminder of a deep seated need to mark the constant changing of me, the turning of time. Moving mindfully with the seasons gives me permission to move on, to let go, to look forward.

The season of Advent has begun and for me it is a season of rest. The bustle of fall is over and the cooling air and early evening darkness encourage us to cozy up at home. I putter around the house stringing lights and putting things in order. I want to create an environment that the boys will remember with fondness. I want them to remember the season of waiting. The lights, the candles, the Jesse tree in the middle of the dining room, the evenings spent reading special books by the twinkling lights. There is magic here as we wait for the birth of Christ.

It is a season of reflection. I look back on the year that has passed and see the good, and the bad. I think about the ways I have changed and the things I have learned. I scribble notes. I marvel at the wonder that is “God with us.” Always, out of love, and even on the darkest of days, God is with us.

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Offer (Day 17)

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Day 17 of 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writing

Today’s Prompt: Offer

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I usually always have an opinion to offer in any given situation. I am a problem solver. I can be bossy and quick to speak. If there is a pause in the conversation I will jump in with my thoughts. This is definitely a strength. I don’t like to waffle, I like to get things done, I can spot a problem and immediately my brain starts starts coming up with solutions.

It is not a strength when I bulldoze over other people. It isn’t kind or loving when I forget that others have something to offer as well, even if something isn’t done the way that I would do it.

As I mature I am becoming a better listener. I am becoming better at letting the pause in the conversation linger so that others have time to offer their thoughts. I have become a master of delegating tasks to others.

I am learning to offer my strengths of leadership and problem-solving as a way to encourage others to offer their strengths and gifts as well.

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

Fly (Day 14)

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My boys on our final trip to the Netherlands in the summer of 2010. These monkeys did a lot of world traveling in their first few years of life. 

Day 14 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing.

Today’s Prompt: Fly

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I feel at home in an airport. I love the bustle of people all with different places to go. There is a sense of excitement and adventure. Expensively dressed business people briskly tapping down the hall, families with strollers and kids and all the paraphernalia, couples holding hands. I play a game where I try to guess where someone is from based on what they look like and how they are speaking.

I feel at home in an airplane. The smiles of the flight attendants as they efficiently go about their work. I like the forced time to read or journal or watch mindless TV. The view from the little oval windows never gets old, even when it is a sea of endless clouds. I love the feel of take-off – the rush, the push of lift-off, and then the freedom of being airborne. Take-off usually comes with feeling of excitement of a new adventure or the sadness of leaving loved ones behind. Landing always comes with relief, joy, anticipation of hugs at baggage claim.

Airports hold many memories for me. Some are happy and some are sad. I have said many hello’s and many goodbyes. It is just part of my life, this always having someone to miss. It keeps me from being too attached to any one place or thing. It reminds me that this world that can feel so permanent is in fact a place I am passing through on my way to eternity.

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Patience (Day 13)

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Day 13 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing.

Today’s Prompt: Patience

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I struggle with patience. A lot. Specifically speaking impatiently to others. Specifically speaking impatiently to my husband and children. It is one of my biggest spiritual battles. I have such a hard time “speaking words that make souls stronger” (to quote Ann Voskamp). I want to be a calm, collected mother who always has soft words towards her children. More often than not the words come out clipped and dismissive. I hate this about myself. I believe that the words we speak are important. I teach my children to speak respectfully and kindly but struggle to be a good example in this area.

My impatience is a sign of my idol of self. I speak impatiently and unkindly when I am interrupted, disrespected, when I am tired and worn out. It is my extreme selfishness that causes me to speak this way, when I chose myself and the momentary relief that comes from my frustrated words over the heart and soul of my husband and kids.

There is hope. I have felt my heart changing in this area. I have learned that I cannot change this behavior by sheer force of will. When I am spending time with God and aware of His love for me it is more likely that loving words, rather than impatient words, will come out.

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You can find the 31 Days writing challenge with 100s of other link ups here.

Storm (Day 12)

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Day 12 of 31 Days of 5 Minutes of Free Writing.

Today’s Prompt: Storm

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I took this picture last weekend because it reminded me of one of my favorite verses that I held onto during some recent storms in my life.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you. -Psalm 139:11&12

It still doesn’t make complete sense to me but I know that I have seen light in dark moments. When the storm clouds of depression gathered and I couldn’t see the light for myself I staked my life on the promise that the darkness was not dark even though it seemed like it would never end. When my heart was heavy for friends who were walking through deep valleys I made myself search for light in the world around me. The physical act of looking for light reminded me that the night was as bright as day.

Then I say to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!

At night I’m immersed in the light!”

It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;

night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you. -Psalm 139:11&12 (The Message)

God is light and there cannot be darkness where He is. And He is everywhere.

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You can find the 31 Days writing challenge with 100s of other link ups here.