creating rhythms

New Years resolutions have never gone very well for me.  I can’t think of a single time where the act of turning a calendar page resulted in real and lasting change for me.  Maybe it has for you.  If that’s the case, you’re the person of whom I was once extremely jealous.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have changed.  For instance, I’m no longer jealous of you.  Now, I feel a first twinge of jealousy, and then take that cue as an opportunity to remind myself of the beautiful differences between us all, and the individual journeys on which God is leading you and me.  My journey just happens to not be one that includes hitting the gym more or complaining less because the earth happened to hit a specific point in its jaunt around the sun.

I (like many of us) have spent a great deal of my life either trying to change something about myself or bemoaning the things that feel impossible to make different.  I’ve learned just a few things along the way.  Come find me in another 10 years and I’ll probably have a few more to add to the list.  For now, I can think of three.  I thought I’d share.

*Change rarely happens outside of community.  We’ve all tried it; the pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and giving ourselves a swift kick in the pants with that same boot.  Has it worked for you?  It never has for me.  The changes that have occurred have been as a result of conversations with friends identifying the common desires, the knowledge of others fighting for the same growth in their own journeys, and someone to call when I feel tired.

*Change almost always happens inside of pain.  This is the piece that no calendar page can control.  We also unfortunately have little say over what newness will come about.  Pain tends to bring about very different change than what we thought we needed.  Even in the most seemingly meaningless suffering, there is a softness that presents itself in us.  Pain forces a dying to our own demands and desires.  It hurts.  It sucks.  Sometimes it really sucks.  It also leaves space for patience and compassion and love to blossom.  And In my opinion, that is far more beautiful than well-defined triceps.  Far. More. Beautiful.

*I must be kind to myself in order to allow for meaningful and permanent change in my life.  When my resolve for change has come from a spirit of self-disgust and shame, it has always ended in failure.  Always.  Its rather awesome that none of us are motivated for change through shame, don’t ya think?  Rather, the times that I have succeeded in following through with the growth I long for, have been the times that I have been kind and accepting enough with myself to acknowledge my own limitations, and provided myself with the grace to take small eensy weensy steps towards wholeness.  These little tweaks may feel discouragingly slow at times.  But they are also gloriously sustainable, and build a momentum of growth in my life.

I think what’s most lovely about these reflections is that they all reveal something about God and about us:

We are designed to be connected to and in relationship with one another.

Pain is never useless.  (This one is excruciating to declare, but I deeply believe its true.)

Shame only leads to destruction, never creation.

Blessings to us as we discover new and natural rhythms for our lives that lead to a more thriving and peaceful existence in 2014.

the insatiable hunger

I have an insatiable appetite. The vastness of my stomach is as limitless as the universe. So I consume. I consume entertainment, convenience, money, and stuff. I consume experiences, food, beauty, and power. I devour relationships, success, applause, and recognition. My hunger never lies dormant. It burns in my belly like the life-force that it is. I look to the next meal, hoping that it will be the one that will finally satisfy the growling beast inside. But none of it does. The rumbling at my core is never quieted. Rather, like a tireless hurricane destroying everything in its path with no consideration of whether its had enough, I devour.

The approaching season always magnifies the gravity of this reality. This season, with its promises of brightness, peace and joy is filled with a bloated unrest. I long for a deep and endless gratitude to drain into me like cold fresh water. But instead I attempt to nibble at it and dissect it, as I push it from one side of my plate to the other. With my eyes fixed on the plate before me, I get weary of the hard work of simple gratitude. So, once again, I turn my gaze to that which is around me, and I begin to consume again. And that which I can’t have, I fret and fume in my victimized state about the unfairness of it all.

And then He enters. He catches my eye from across the room. He walks over to me. He gently pushes the fork in my hand from my mouth to the table, and declares with kindness in His eyes and a steadiness in His voice, “Enough.” “You are enough. You have enough. You can rest now. Just rest dear precious child. Be at peace.”

I remind Him of all I have yet to eat. I remind Him of all that everyone else is eating, and how starving I’m going to be if I’m not eating the meal as well. As I say it out loud, I feel the lie spew from my mouth. I’m tired of eating. Exhausted really. For once, I want my stomach to feel full and remain that way. He pulls out the bread and the wine. It looks so meager and tasteless compared to the delicacies that are inundating my senses. He assures me my body wasn’t made for those things. “Eat.” And so I do. “Drink.” I drink. I don’t feel much at first. I still notice a rumbling in my belly. “I don’t think its working” I worry. But He assures me, my body was made for this food. I will be satisfied.

So I begin a steady diet of bread and wine. As the simple food begins its work of nourishing my body, I don’t feel so heavy. And, feeling lighter, I am better able to pick up my weary head and notice the world around me. Its beautiful and its waiting for me. But I no longer ask myself how it might fill my aching belly. Rather, I cut the bread and offer its sustenance to my friend. I open the wine and pour a glass for my enemy. We all dine and we are full.

Its enough.

This is my prayer.

back at it

Well hello again!

I’m back after a 4 month hiatus. Rumor has it, from the vast amount of “How to Build your Blog” research that I’ve done (“vast amount” aka “none”), that taking 4 month breaks from blogging is not the way to increase readership. But since increasing readership is not on my TO DO list, and being kind to myself is, I’m ok with it. As I mentioned in my About me, I am an ENFP. This, like all personality types, comes with strengths and growth areas. And I’ve discovered that often those two things are packaged and wrapped in the very same gift. One of my strengths is my enthusiasm. Gosh am I good at getting excited. PLEASE tell me about the new book you’re reading, or the movie that just changed your life, or the fascinating class you’re taking, or the amazing cause for which you’re running the 10k. Whatever it is that you’re pumped about these days, 9 times out of 10 I will also see how fabulous it is and get all bright-eyed and wiggly. 4 times out of 10, I might even cry about it. The other side of this enthusiasm is that it is simply not possible for someone to remain at that level of intensity about lots of different things. So the challenge always presents itself in the follow-thru. We ENFPs get super excited, and then…ooh look at that shiny object! Wow that’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen! I love that shiny object SO much! I can hardly believe HOW MUCH I LOVE that shiny thing!!…Wait, what were you saying?

You get the idea.

However, I am learning to distinguish excitement and interest from true passion. There are lots of activities and issues that can spark my enthusiasm, but far fewer that cause the kindling of my soul to light on fire. I am learning the difference between supporting issues and valuing activities that are of interest, and advocating for those issues and interests that bring out the truest parts of God in me.  You see, after a 4 month break, a less enlightened blogging Lindsey might have been tempted to quietly slip into world wide web oblivion and count her writing intentions as a good effort.  But this blogging Lindsey knows she has more inside of her than that. So she’s back.

And so happy to be here.

Be gone shiny things.

don't ask

real and beautiful

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to live in a world where you didn’t feel inundated with photos and commercials of fake women?  Just imagine living in a world where the advertisers one and only goal wasn’t to highlight your own insecurities 500 times a day?  That’s really the whole point of advertising right?  You’re not ok just as you are.  You need something MORE.  And without MORE–more beauty, more convenience, more luxury, more fun–you will never be ok.  I saw this advertisement and was struck by what I was feeling while looking at it.  I felt a comradery with the individuals in these photos.  I wanted to tell them, “Wow!  You are so beautiful.  Like really really beautiful.  And you are real.  Real AND beautiful.”  Just maybe that means we can be real and beautiful too.

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Original by Debenhams

Absurdities of a 4 year old

I’ve been on vacation.  Well, “vacation” is a loose term when you’re single-parenting it with your 1 and 4 year old.  Rather, I’ve been on a trip.  Back to the homeland.  AKA home of the deep dish pizza, the Cubbies, corrupt governors, and the people who perfected the hotdog.  Its been an unforgettable trip of reconnecting with old friends, holding new babies, carrying on traditions, and enjoying summer.  Although, I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth if I didn’t mention how hard it is to parent without the hubby around.  Those single mothers out there are ah-may-zing.  You hear me?  Amazing.  And so is my husband.  I miss him.

So, in honor of my crazy kids, I thought I’d share a little story of their shenanigans.  Because who doesn’t love an absurd story about kids?

It was a morning like any other morning. The kids were slumped bleary-eyed on the couch. Lucas requested a TV show. And in true “any other morning fashion” Riese enthusiastically responded to his request with a resounding “Barney!” As in the singing dancing prehistoric lizard. Or the more phonetically correct Riese-nunciation: “Marney!”. The girl loves her some purple dinosaur. But, the thing is, Lucas does not share the sentiment. So, to her enthusiastic cry, he responded with an equally as exuberant, “No Marney!” And so commenced three excruciating minutes of such rhetoric:  “Marney!”  “No Marney!”  “Marney!!”  “NO Marney!!!”  “MARNEY!!!”

Points for passion. Subtractions for lack of creativity.

I escaped into the kitchen and began breakfast for the munchkins. Lucas wanted pancakes and waffles and a popsicle. Riese wanted ice cream.

Got it. Cereal it is.

I set the small plastic IKEA bowls with their coordinating spoons on the coffee table for the kids, and called for Lucas. He was no where to be found, even after winning the TV battle that morning. For the proverbial record, his win had nothing to do with him being the eldest, and everything to do with my recent consideration that I may, at any moment, be only one Barney episode away from a crisis hotline call.  That dinosaur and his singing dancing little people can take me to crazy places.  CRAZY I tell you.

Fine Barney, I’ll say it, since you keep asking, I love you too. Now will you please get the heck out of my family room?

So, with cereal getting soggy, I went searching for Lucas. Upon where, I found him sitting on the toilet. Allow me, if you would,  to paint a more descriptive picture.  You see, on his way to the bathroom, unbeknownst to its owner, Lucas had swiped my phone. So, there he was, on the porcelain throne, playing Subway Surfers, fully content. He sat there like one reclined in a large inner tube floating down a lazy river. Except the tube, of course, in this situation, being a toilet seat. The only thing that could have completed the picture would have been if he had had a little cooler tied up beside him.

Normally I would discourage such totally gross BOY-LIKE behavior. But, for whatever reason, I decided to let it slide this time, and gave him a few more minutes on his self-proclaimed royal seat.

Bad move.
Lesson learned.

I headed back to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher. Minutes later, a sheepish little boy rounded the corner, holding out my phone like an offering of a lamb for slaughter.

“I dropped this in the toilet.”

I took my phone from him and peeled off the piece of wet toilet paper across the screen while holding back the string of expletives firing through my head. I was determined to live up to my new self-proclaimed label of “World’s Most Decent Mom”, after having a “World’s Worst Mom” kind of day just one day prior.

Pause.

*deeeep breath*

“Lucas…honey…what do you mean you dropped my phone in the toilet?”

[blank stare]

Ok…let’s try another angle…

“Buddy, how did you drop my phone in the toilet??”

“Well, my arms just got tired of holding it.”

“Ah.  I see.  Yes, that happens honey.  Well thank you for telling me!”  Said no mom ever…

So, the question is, at the end of the day, is this little scene a comedy or a tragedy in all of its Shakespearean authenticity?  Well, that all depends on the state of the phone.  And I’m happy to report that after 6 hours of sitting in some hard-working rice, my phone appears to have suffered no ill-effects from its brief jaunt in the John.

We’ll count that as a mommy victory.

the fighter

The same thing has kept me away from this blog that is able to keep us all away from the things that we know we are meant to do.

Fear.

The job I spoke of in my last post didn’t work out. Long story short: They changed the job position and salary (both for the worst) on my first day. And after much deliberation, Mark and I decided that, with the changes, the job was no longer going to be worth it for our family and for me.

Simple enough to share right?

But, see, the story touches on that nerve. You know the one. We all have one…or ten. The nerve that tingles with pain and mocking laughter and belittlement whenever it is struck. For me, sharing that the job didn’t work out, strikes one of those nerves. When I have had to tell people the news, for me, it feels less like a story of an uncool employer pulling a 180 on me on day one, and more like a confession.

Hi, my name is Lindsey, and I am a quitter.

The tingling is a result of those goals that have been made throughout my life and have yet to be realized (or never will). There was the opportunity for a college volleyball career that was never actualized, and the New Years resolutions that lasted about as long as our Betta fish’s attention span. There’s been the projects that, while begun with great gusto, sit dusty in my closet. These events suggest to me a story. A story of fear and disappointment. And quitting.

But its just that. A story. Fiction.

Its not the truth.

Here’s the true story: I’ve got a spouse of eight years, two children, and one relationship with a God with whom I have longed for, loved, and wrestled with for my entire working memory. These relationships do not make up the story of a quitter. But a fighter.

Hello, my name is Lindsey, and I am a fighter. Marriage has at times been harder than I could ever have anticipated, but I’m not moving. And neither is he. We will continue to try to see each other when all we want is to be seen. And we will fail. And we will try again.

Hello my name is Lindsey, and I am a fighter. Parenting has at times felt like the hardest thing in the whole entire world. The constant self-sacrifice. The constant denial of my own needs for the needs of small human beings that depend on me completely for their safety and health. When parenting is hard, its really hard. But on the other hand: when its good its really good. I’m not going anywhere.

Hello my name is Lindsey, and I am a fighter. Christ has saved me, but his people have confused me over and over again. I grow, and then life shows up. What I previously knew no longer fits. So I ask and I talk and I pray and I fight. And I grow some more. And on and on the cycle goes. Its called a relationship. And, again, I’m choosing to stay IN.

Truth, my friends. Its the only story worth living.

What is the lie that you are believing today? What is it that you need to square up to, look dead in the face and tell to just. shut. up.? Not once, but ten thousand times.

I believe it works.

Everytime we take those cursed little lies by the neck, their grip on ours grows weaker. And the spirit inside of us sings. And love flourishes.

So may you be harsh with the lies and kind with yourself today.

You too are a fighter.

seasons

Today feels significant. It is the first day of the last week before I start my new job. It is the first day of the last week of being a full-time-stay-at-home mom. It is the first day of the last week of pancake breakfasts on a Wednesday and preschool carpool and Tuesday morning swim lessons. For now at least. Just for now. There will be a great deal for me and my family to gain through this new season of life. There are so many reasons why this is a good thing. But over the last week, I have been in a state of sadness. I think I just need a little time to be sad about the changes that will be occurring shortly. I need this process of accepting how life is going to change for the kids. For Mark. For me.

Life is filled with seasons. There are the unwelcomed seasons for which we never asked. There are the seasons that couldn’t have come soon enough. There are the seasons that we didn’t realize were seasons until they’re over. And there are the seasons that we thought had a clear end in sight, but end up sticking around for much longer than we planned. This is a season. It will be a season of personal and professional growth. It will be a season of increasing my empathy for the moms and dads that would love to stay home with their little ones but have no other option but to work with no end in sight. It will be a season of getting paid to nurture and support brave women who find themselves pregnant, with only a foggy shadowed image for a future. It will be a season of celebrating with families who at last welcome home their long awaited and deeply desired sons and daughters who have been living on the other side of the ocean. It will be a season of meeting new women and colleagues whose hearts’ beat for many of the same things for which my heart beats.

Please forgive me for using this forum to talk myself into this new season. Really, there is nothing about this new job that I am not utterly and completely excited about. Except for the part where I say goodbye to two little munchkins in the morning, wish them a good day, remind Lucas to be a good listener, walk out of the door, and don’t walk back in until 5pm that evening. Quite frankly, its a little too much to think about right now. But I’ll get there. Like all seasons that have hurled me into unknown territory, it seems like the anticipation of the new chapter can be much scarier than the day by day living of it.

So here’s the plan. This week. Its the last week before I start my new job. I’m going to make pancakes on a Wednesday, take them to ice cream on a Thursday, play in the splash park with them on a Tuesday, read them books all morning on a Monday, let them play at the children’s museum for as long as they want on a Friday, and snuggle them every single chance I get everyday. And then next week? Well, we’ll deal with that season when it gets here.

25 in Change-Day 24

I had visions of blogging almost everyday over these 25 days.  But, clearly, that didn’t happen.  At the beginning I was determined to give myself the grace and kindness necessary to successfully complete this journey.  So that is what I will do.  I think that the complexity of what I have been learning and feeling has made writing exceptionally difficult for me.  I feel as if I was dropped in the middle of a great body of water, paddling through an ocean of unsettling information and confusing emotions.  As I paddle I take notice of that island over there, and that ship in the distance, and the creature to my right, just under the surface of the water.  Its been hard to know where to hold my focus.

Every time I have sat to write, the blank page has laughed at me as I attempt to grasp at my thoughts and combine them into one coherent concept.  This has felt frustrating, reaching for waves, attempting to control them and make sense of their size and power.  And perhaps that’s the point.  I am in the ocean right now, noticing the landmarks around me while sifting through my own inner feelings of hunger and longing and disillusionment.  Doing everything I can to keep my head above water.

In two days I will begin emerging from this body of water.  I will begin to notice once again the sand that has been just beneath my feet the whole time.  I am hoping that from shore I will be able to study the island’s geography in more depth.  And the creature’s habits.  And the ship’s route.  I have a feeling I will be spending quite a bit of time by the ocean.  I have become a student and a lover of the ocean.

25 in Change-Day 13

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Food.  Its been a central topic in my life lately: raising support for food for the children, food insecurity, food I can’t eat, food I can eat, what’s in the food I usually eat, what isn’t in the food I usually eat, and the processes that the food goes through before making it to my mouth.  Its a lot of talk about food.  At times I find myself looking forward to when these 25 days are behind me, just so food can go back to being the peripheral issue that it was before all of this.  It feels so unnatural to commit this much time and thought to food.  But then it occurred to me, perhaps the marginal thought that I put into food before this journey is in fact more unnatural.

We live in a country where, though surrounded by restaurants, convenience stores, and markets, we put a suprisingly nominal amount of time into thinking about food.  I’m realizing that thinking about eating is vastly different than thinking about food.  I think about what I want to eat.  I think about where I am going to eat.  I think about what I am in the mood to eat.  I think about with whom I’m  going to eat.  But, comparatively, I think quite minimally about my food.

It is hard-wired into me for food to be a peripheral issue.  However, the truth is, food is essential to life.  You’re welcome for that little golden nugget of knowledge.  And although, outrageously obvious, I have rarely treated food that way.  I have more often viewed food as a source of pleasure, the object used to get rid of those pesky hunger pangs, an item in which to surround social gatherings, and the cursed thing that gets in the way of me feeling more comfortable at the pool or beach.  I have rarely thought of it as the life-giving, life-sustaining gift from the Father that it is.

So, on this Day 13, one of my prayers have evolved into asking God to begin the hard work of rewiring my thoughts and desires.  I long for a deeper connection with the substances that I choose to put into this temple.  I desire to come to peace, once and for all, with my food.  I want to possess a sense of pride in knowing that I am respectfully nourishing this one and only body with which I have been entrusted.  I want to know the satisfaction of treating this earth more tenderly with my food choices, as well as showing gratitude to the worker whose life’s work revolves around feeding this world’s people well.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’ve got a long ways to go.  I had a dream just last night that I was eating a cheeseburger.  And truth be told, my dreamburger was divine.  But I am open and growing and teachable.  Baby steps.  Sustainable, ethical, healthful baby steps.

25 in Change-Day 6

This season is jolting. I feel in a constant state of unrest. There is an inherent discontentment to bland repetitive food. And not having quite enough of it to satisfy. I am finding myself more irritable. Which, unfortunately, the kids have been the recipient of on a couple of occasions. I am anxious about having enough Partners to support me, checking the list like a college student obsessing over her final grade. And then there’s the beautiful children. The kids are always on my mind. Their world that is so completely “other” from the world in which I live. Is it even possible that I live in the same universe, let alone on the same planet, as these other billion people who are fighting just to survive? The child refugees that are waking up in their tarp homes, washing their faces, and heading to school just to get their stomach’s filled? The children in the pictures with the ragged uniforms and the big toothy smiles, scarfing down their lunches as if a filet and mashed potatoes has just been set before them? Why can’t these images just live in my computer screen? Why must they enter into my world, and bring me unrest? Its so much easier to ignore.

Until you can’t.

Then its much much harder.

I don’t know exactly where this journey is taking me. But wherever its going, I think that place is good. And so I continue. I would hate the inner tension, if it weren’t for the fact that I believe it is shifting around my insides. Something is changing. I don’t know how. But it continues to point to the heart of Christ, and so I let it do its work. And I continue to watch, to see how it all pans out.

One of my all-time favorite songs happens to be by one of my all-time favorite bands, Mumford & Sons. The words of this song have been ringing in my ears for a couple days now, so I thought I’d share the song. The lyrics are included below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8D7MLsNAb8

Timshel

Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And I will tell the night
Whisper, “Lose your sight”
But I can’t move the mountains for you