2014 – Focus

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As the first month of the year has come to a close, its time press the publish button on this post, which has been in draft form for several weeks…

Last year I decided to participate in One Word 365 – choosing a word for the year, foregoing New Year’s Resolutions. Last year’s word was Renew. It was a good word for the year. I felt the renewal of many things – joy, energy, goals. It was a word chosen in faith from deep in the shadows of grief, that somehow I could figure out how to fully live again.

While the sadness and missing remain, and always will, at some point this past year the heavy shroud of perpetual grief did lift. And in some ways, because of journeying through those sad, desperate, lonely places, I have felt a deeper sense of the sacredness of this one life I’ve been given. I’ve sensed renewed purpose in my role as mother to all three of my children. God has given me glimpses, as the year drew to a close, of how my daughter’s story and our family’s story has been and continues to be used for His glory. This brings deep joy to my heart – to know that Naomi’s brief life continues to impact others. Obviously, it continues to impact my life and our family’s life, but the ripples gently expand and it is humbling to see.

Turning toward this new year, I find the word focus coming to the forefront of my mind. As my heart has healed I have been able to embrace more activity, more of life. Yet, one of the things that I found in those early days of grief was that I had to create space in my days in order to process all that was in my heart and mind. Grief was a convenient excuse. I have spent a lot of time asking myself, why did I need an excuse to make space in my life? At the same time, as life has gotten busier, I’ve had less of that space in which to sit and think (and write!). Life is full of so many distractions – some helpful, others not so much. To that end, I find the need to focus my time and energies on the things that are the most important to me. I’ve sensed the Lord nudging me toward certain things, laying burdens on my heart and I want to be faithful to those things.

I have profoundly realized that I have been blessed with so. many. choices. Opportunities have been before me all my life. I’ve felt both the privilege and the burden of all these opportunities for quite some time. Often, I’ve interpreted my wide array of opportunities to mean that I should do all these Good Things. As a mom, as a wife, as a professional – I have this sense of I should do it all. But perhaps I am maturing a bit because now I am ready to say – I cannot do everything. In fact, I can’t even do most things. But I can and want to do a few things really well.

So I have a list. I am an INFP personality type, according to Myers-Briggs and as all “P’s” know, lists are more like suggestions than actual things that will be done. Still – it rules out some things. Six things this year that I am going to FOCUS on. It goes like this:

1) Reading God’s Word – soaking it in one book at a time. The past few years I’ve been reading through the whole Bible or large portions of it, which has been great, but this year, I want to really dig deep. And I’m starting in Genesis, which conveniently is the study for our women’s group at church. So excited to delve into this story of beginnings.

2) My Marriage – started out this year with a week long focus on our marriage as we spent seven whole days together, just the two of us (an 2,400 of our closest friends) aboard a cruise ship. Seriously, though, after 10 years of marriage I love him so much more than I did on our wedding day. The past two years have been hard but by God’s grace we are working through it and are growing stronger together. Want to keep that going!

3) My Health – After my bout of sickness the past two months of 2013 that ended with pneumonia, focusing on staying healthy, which for me starts with getting AT LEAST eight hours of sleep on a regular basis, is so important. There are lots of mini goals here to include fitness and healthy eating. Bottom line, when I take care of me I can do what it is I have been called by God to do!

4) My Children – they are one of the most precious gifts I have been given. But being a mom to two boys here on earth and a girl in heaven is not something I ever expected. I am learning to embrace being a boy mom…it keeps getting crazier and sometimes a bit stinky and uncomfortable, but there is so much joy there too. Two books I want to read this year are Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys and Boys Should Be Boys. There are a whole bunch more, but ….focus, remember?

5) My Career – this has been a confusing subject for me for many years. I’ve wrestled with a lot of guilt for working outside the home. But finally, I feel like I’ve come to a place where I am embracing this aspect of my life for the long haul. I am a working mom, a career woman. This year I’ve got some specific goals I’m excited about in this area, but I’m gonna keep those off-line. 🙂

6) Writing – And last but not least, writing…what, when, where, how? All yet to be decided. Here more, I hope. I love words. I always have. I’ve filled many notebooks with ponderings and musings and stories of life and of God. Its a bit scary for me to put out here that writing is something I’m going to actually focus on. I’ve never considered myself a writer. But I’m convinced that our stories are such an important part of who we are and how we come to know the God who created us. I have this dream of telling my stories – stories to give testimony to how God is at work in my life and in the lives of those around me. Stories that I hope bring others closer to Him.

So there it is…written out, by God’s grace. And in that grace I will attempt to focus on just these things in 2014.

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Five Minute Friday: SEE

Five Minute FridayToday’s prompt from Lisa Jo is SEE! Five minutes, no editing…here we go…

GO

I see a mother whose belly would have been rounding out by now, full of life.

I see a father, so proud of his son, but so broken because he is now gone, putting one. Foot. In. Front. Of . The. Other.

I see a brother, still so young, missing his little sister and in the same breath loving his favorite toy, embracing life but feeling the empty spot in his soul, not even having words to describe how it feels.

I see a husband faithfully loving his wife through the broken. Serving her, feeding her, praying that she will someday see the sun again and emerge from the darkness that covers her soul.

I see so much pain. I believe God sees it to.

I see a Savior, with hands bloody, who sits down in the midst of the darkness and weeps with His broken children. I see Him gently tending the wounds of the soul, whispering words of hope – This. Is. Not. The. End. I have overcome. Believe in Me and you will have life.

I see men and women walking through the deepest dark, clinging to the One who makes all things new in raw faith that feels so small.

I trust I will see the day when Jesus will redeem all our pain and sorrow.

STOP

Five Minute Friday: Grace

Five Minute Friday

The silence has been deafening here, no? It has to me. So as a way to break the silence I am joining up here with five minutes on my lunch break. Five minutes on Grace.

GO:Grace.

A definition: “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency”

I need so much of this beautiful stuff, the stuff that enables me to keep breathing when it feels like the weight of life and responsibilities are pushing in.

Grace.

For myself, most especially, I find. When others are running late or don’t quite delivery, it feels easier to give grace there. But when I fail, when I let myself or others down? Well, lately I’ve been bringing out the whip and flinging it over my shoulders, over and over again.

It has to stop. I don’t think I’m the only one either. All us mommas, us women, why do we beat ourselves up and refuse to love ourselves just. as. we. are?

I have a little faded piece of a sticky note on my bulletin board at work with this:

“Grace must find an expression in life, otherwise it is not grace.” – Karl Barth

Today, I will give grace to myself even as I seek to extend it to those around me.

STOP

on prayers in the mess and not being alone

DSC04796_2A month of Sundays has come and gone since I’ve written here.

Sunny, 90 degree days of shorts and sandals followed by pull the wool socks back out, chilly days we’ve had this May. Celebrations of graduation, a trip out west, visiting gardens and watching baseball along with school and work and the day to day business of living have filled our days.

I’ve stumble for words, for the right words to put here this month. Because in everything I do I want the “right.” But my life doesn’t often feel orderly and put together. Most of the time it feels messy and like I’m just barely keeping my head above water and,

oh Jesus, help!

I pray that a lot.

Oh Jesus, help!

I think its a good prayer. I also wish I remembered to pray it more. Like when I am so done with repeating myself for the fiftieth time to my boys. Or when I smell the warm air and am transported back to one year ago in the hospital with Naomi on my first Mother’s Day as a mother of three. Or when I am about to board a plane for Portland and leave my boys for a week for the first time since my daughter died. Or when I have so much to do and all I want to do is go to bed. Or when I hear about tornadoes and children dying and homes destroyed. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I want to pray but can’t. But all the time Jesus is with me. And He knows. He knows the struggle and the mess and the joy and the sorrow.

In grief and in life I think sometimes all we need is to know we are not alone. And to know we are loved.

You are loved. I am loved. We’re all a mess. And Jesus is here in the midst of it with us.

This is what I know to be true.