Monday, October 20, 2014

Box of Darkness

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Psalm 112:7

This Fall.  It held so much promise and potential. The evening of September 2nd, found me packing lunches in anticipation of the start of a new school year. A year where my kids would go to school and be in classes, learning under teachers that I had prayed for the moment we knew they would be in school. Of course there was the nervous anticipation as well. Had I prepared them well enough? Would they fit in? Are they going to succeed? But all in all, the beginning of school went without a hitch and we were on our way. Until we weren't.

Life has a way of slowing us down -- slowing me down. I get so caught up with the routine and meeting expectations (hopefully surpassing expectations), so I need life to do that and when it does I am shocked.

One week after school started, I was on a plane to Texas without my kids and with Matt and my brother-in-law and his future wife. After a year and half of praying and believing for healing, we had to do the hard work of trusting God's plan for Tiffany as he took her Home. 

Our sweet Bethany is an achiever, but after visiting with the doctor it seems she was, maybe still is, experiencing some anxiety over her entrance to second grade.  She's had almost an allergic reaction to this period of transition but curiously she outwardly thrives.

And our precious Lucas? Well, school hit him and me like an unwelcome wake-up call and we've been challenged to figure out exactly what makes him tick. Socially all is well, but that kid is a d.r.e.a.m.e.r, and every period represents some random thought that he follows down a rabbit hole and forgets to capitalize the beginning and punctuate the ending of the trail.

Oh, my heart.  To see your children struggle and to be grieving in the midst of it, that is a duty of adulthood I was not expecting.

There are these moments that seem so laden with darkness, you fear suffocation and I'm there. I experience that heightened heart beat and quicker breathing accompanied by a flutter in my stomach as I try to figure out how are we going to do this life.

I get tired of talking about seasons of life because I find myself wondering if Spring will ever come. Just when I think we're going to get a bit ahead there is a new twist in the plot and I'm physically raising an eyebrow and audibly saying, "Huh."

This is the Fall of hellos and goodbyes, of transitions and take out as I basically quit making dinner in order to tediously encourage fourth grade homework 26 years after I did it myself.  This is the season of one sickness circulating multiple times through the family and bed wetting and sheet changing and then the stomach bug and the three days where I did laundry 18 hours a day and still had six loads left to do. It is a time of busyness and traveling and loneliness.

And in the middle of all this dark that threatens annhililation with its density, I realize that without it I couldn't see the light.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

When we made our quick trip to Texas and had to leave behind four kids, we had these incredible friends who took our kiddos in and loved them, kept them safe and worked through their various quirks and schedules in the first week of school. Friends who didn't just provide beds, food and supervision but who told stories and played games and included our four in their family-life. We had another friend bring reprieve through playdates and doing preschool drop off and pick up, and yet another who picked our oldest up from school and got to know them and made memories over frozen yogurt. We were surrounded by the prayers of an amazing group of women who had also been praying for Tiffany since her first diagnosis and encouraged me with calls and texts while I was processing and trying to figure out exactly how to grieve.  A staff of friends who encouraged us on our way and gave immeasurable support in this unchartered territory.

And those kids who were struggling to adjust to school? How grateful I am for the extra love they received from the teachers that God prepared for them. How incredible it's been to see how well they know B and L already, and how they are on Team Price for the win, partnering with us as we figure out this new place of parenting.

What a gift it was to be completely present and mostly undistracted to grieve the loss of the sister-in-law that I thought I'd have years to really know. To grieve the loss of a dream of sisterhood. To mourn the loss of one I had prayed for first to come into our lives and second that her life would be spared. And in this season where sadness comes in waves, I am grateful that I knew Tiffany for three years and that the mark she left on me and our family is one I wouldn't get rid of to spare the pain, because Tiffany could light up a room and truly lived.

And on the evenings when the three younger kids are undoing all the cleaning I've spent my day doing and I'm trying to explain the ins and outs of common core math to an uninterested fourth grader who's swishing water in his mouth, and I lose it and demand through clenched teeth that he focus and fill in the right bubble ... when I have to get off my high parenting horse and apologize for being harsh and impatient, the light pierces even that darkness. He says to me, "You don't have to say sorry. I think you're the most patient person." And I'm humbled, because those prayers that God would grow patience in me (but please, oh, please don't give me cause to be patient) are being answered, and my 9 year old sees the work He is beginning in me and grants a forgiveness I don't deserve.

In the hours of tending to the sick and wondering who's going to catch it next and as I carry the lysol can around and boil water to disinfect; as I cry in my laundry room over the mounds of germ induced laundry and I wonder how I will ever finish, and why me, Lord -- even in the darkness of the grime and gross I find the light.  It comes in songs and psalms and breath prayers.

In Matt's absence and long hours and on the evenings when he's home but still working it suddenly and completely hits me and it's blinding. And he's confused and wonders how I've never really thought of it before. That man I started dating when we were both really still kids? He may travel the world, but he's never leaving me. It is grace and it is light.

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” 

I can get so caught up in wishing for the Spring and Summer of life that I fail to see the beauty in my Fall. It is forever constant and is always there, that Light that spoke the light into being and we miss it when we focus on the darkness and not the beauty in the ugly. 

It's the living and loving that happens in the little moments, whether many or few.

It's the mourning and rejoicing and the promise of eternal life and sweet reunion.

It's the intricate workings of each of our children molded and purposed for His plan.

It's the ability to be fully present.

It's His gentle work and His still small voice and their presence in my kids' lives.

It's the hard work of mothering, both loving and fierce -- vigilant and relentless.

It's the revealing of His covenant of Love in the comfort of marriage.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” 
― Albert Camus

Sometimes 'mid scenes of deepest gloom, 
Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
By waters still, o'er troubled sea
Still 'tis His hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me.
Joseph H Gilmore

Join us as we explore darkness this month. Start with Allie at A Hopeful Place and follow the links.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Disappointments and Thunderstorms

"Disappointments are to the soul what thunderstorms are to the air." 
~ Friedrich von Schiller

I've spent the past few weeks in Texas, which has been a breath of fresh air for this girl, her kids and husband.  It is great to be with family -- wonderful to look out on land with not a building in sight.  What a gift to be able to walk the dog, hands phone-free because I'm just on this glorious stretch of land in east Texas -- a haven of safety.  To allow my kids to go off and explore on their own and not worry.

After a year when nothing seemed to go my way, this time away has been a quiet reprieve.  

Texas is a place like no other.  From the huge baked potatoes to high school football; from animal print to southern hospitality, when you've truly lived in Texas, you love Texas.  

I remember moving here as a twenty year old, taking a year off of school to live with my family again, and being completely startled by many things -- the size of the cockroaches and how they take flight, the confusing configuration of feeder roads whose absence I now realize is one of the major deficits of Los Angeles, Texas pride, and the thunderstorms.  

The first time I experienced a Texas thunderstorm was in the middle of the night, and even as a young adult the crash and subsequent roll of the thunder was so startling that I ran into my parents' room.  I had never heard anything like it.  

As a college student walking across campus, it didn't matter the size of the umbrella, if it rained between classes, I was soaked from head to foot for the rest of the day.

A storm can be anticipated or it can explode on the scene taking you off guard.  There have been several times on this trip where flashlights and candles are pulled out as lights begin to flicker and a storm rolls in.

I. love. it.

Probably because I can remember only a handful of times it has rained in Los Angeles since we moved there twelve years ago.  Rain, thunder and lightening have become a novelty.

I love the anticipation and nervous excitement, the preparation or lack there of, the crash of the thunder and the flare of lightening, the immediate cool down and decrease in humidity, the way plans change or get a little more interesting in the face of the weather, and the way everything looks greener after the rain.

But what can bring life and energy can also cause devastation. 

When we arrived on JMJ ranch three weeks ago there was a tree that had been virtually destroyed in a storm. It had crashed into a fence and created more than a day's worth of work -- from cutting it down, to chopping it up, stacking the wood, and mending the fence.

The rain storms, the tree, this year and this trip have my mind racing with what-ifs and why nots and the pains of life ...

How the chopping, cutting, throwing, stacking and mending sent my now city-boy husband into days of discomfort, all because of a storm.

Like I said, I absolutely love Texas and every time we are here it is difficult to leave. This time, the night before our departure I decided to stay behind with the kids for a couple weeks while Matt gets back to work.  We both knew that this decision was right for the whole family, and yet as I was separating our suitcase into two and dropping Matt at the airport yesterday, I got a familiar knot in my throat and hot tears in my eyes, because even though it's only for a matter of days, when you've made a life with someone it becomes inconceivable that you should ever be apart. For us, that's what love is: Joy in each other's company. Happiness in memories. Pain in absence.

My older kids had the opportunity to spend a couple days on the ranch just with Papa Price. About twenty-four hours into the separation of kids from parents, I got a phone call that Lucas had been stung by a yellow-jacket.  Lucas is very allergic to bees; within minutes he goes into anaphylactic shock. When your child is in danger, you want to be with him to bring comfort and search out all the help you can -- a parent is a warrior, but two hours away, worry was quickly setting in. Luckily, we discovered Lucas is not allergic to all stings, because one antihistimine and an icepack later, he was fine.  Never have I been more acutely aware of the space between us, as I tried to care for him one phone conversation at a time. There is pain in distance.

As I raise my kids and they reach milestones and grasp for more independence, I realize that my life as a mother will be filled with moments of holding on and forcing myself to let go as they become the people they were created to be and reach for the dreams of their hearts.  There is pain in growth.

In little and big ways, our lives are filled with pain.

Matt's Memaw is ninety-three years old. Over the past fourteen years I've experienced her as an amazing cook, welcomer, reminiscer and story-teller, faithful wife, advocate of her children and grandchildren, grieving widow, grieving mother, but always a joy finder.  On this visit, I've noticed her pain as she realizes that she can no longer do the things that used to be easy, to host and serve, to hoist grandkids on her lap, to walk unassisted.  There is pain in aging.

My sister-in-law Tiffany will turn thirty-seven in a few weeks.  A year and a half ago she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  Despite many prayers and rounds of chemotherapy the cancer has spread and the doctors don't have much hope.  Tiffany is living in a lot of pain right now, but through all of the ups and downs of her journey, she has chosen hope and clings to faith -- hope and faith for healing, yes, but more than that.  She hopes and places her faith in her God.  Because when bodies fail, there is pain.

"Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet." 

It's strange that in nature, I can experience a storm and anticipate the greater good, and yet when storm clouds come my way in life, I get so quickly thrown off course and flounder and wonder and doubt.

And yet, just as thunderstorms can cause fear and destruction while bringing relief and life, so disappointments can cause pain and suffering while increasing our faith and making us strong in ways we didn't know possible.  

"When darkness seems to win we know that pain reminds this heart that this is not our home." (Blessings, Laura Story)

"For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come." (Hebrews 13:14, NLT)

How grateful we can be that in the midst of a world where trouble seems to take up residence in the most unlikely of places, we are eternal beings, not created for a fallen world, but for a world of perfection, where sin and pain and death cannot reside.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
(Blessings, Laura Story)

Start with Susan and follow the links as we talk about pain this month.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Whispers in the Waiting

When I was waiting for my first baby to learn to go to sleep on his own, I would sing songs to comfort and read the same books nightly to create a sense of security.   From one of those books filled with the rhyme and repetition that only Dr. Seuss can do so masterfully, come these words:

The Waiting Place ...

... for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite 
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break 
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

excerpt from Oh, the Places You'll Go!

It's fun to read those words and laugh at the nonsensical pictures, but how often do we really find ourselves in an endless holding pattern?

When we moved here twelve years ago, the plan was clear and simple.  Matt would go to seminary for three years while I worked, and we would move (most likely back to Texas) and continue on our simple life.  I waited for this for almost eleven years.

For much of that time, I was busy planning out the rest of our lives according to the plan and vision we had when we first got married.  The only problem with that is that the plans of two 22 year olds often don't match up to the weight of real world responsibility, let alone calling.  

For the past year or so I've been attempting to set aside my plans and dreams from long ago, and have a more hands off -- hands open approach.  I'll be the first to admit that it's been messy and many times reminiscent of a game of truth or dare, wherein I dare and He reveals truth.  

"God, you're going to have to make it very clear that ..."
"God, I just don't think I can do another year of ..."
"If we're supposed to stay here then ..."

And as He responds with provision that I cannot deny is from Him, with peace and with plans, and with a love for my kids greater than I can bestow on them, my prayers are slowly changing ... I am realizing that a life entrusted to the Author of Life, is never anything less than an adventure and that trusting the One who has never failed brings the rarest kind of simplicity.

Even youths will faint and be weary,

    and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.
Is. 40:30-31, NRSV 

So whether I am waiting for a full night's sleep or the realization of a dream ...
No matter if I find myself consumed with teaching my kids or looking for a new way of educating them ...
When I struggle to have meaningful interactions with my loved ones or I can't wait to have alone time ...
If work is all consuming or I'm looking forward to a week of ceaseless quality time with my husband ...
Wherever I find myself, I'm not waiting alone.

"For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you."
Deut. 31:6, HCSB

I am so aware that God knows me better than I know myself, and that He is aware that I don't wait gracefully, and yet He meets me exactly where I am, and He does the same for you.  And when He does, there is no doubt that we have experienced the presence of God.  The presence that reassures, protects, heals, restores, builds faith, and always places glory where it is due.  How thankful I am that even when I doubt, when trust is anything but easy, I serve a God that looks on the heart, and meets me in quiet moments with perfect peace and clarity.

At that moment, the Lord passed by. 
A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains 
and was shattering cliffs before the Lord,
 but the Lord was not in the wind. 
After the wind there was an earthquake, 
but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 
 After the earthquake there was a fire, 
but the Lord was not in the fire. 
And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle 
and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
I Kings 19:11-13, HCSB

I'm so honored to be blogging with a group of amazing ladies this year.  To read more on waiting, read Staci's blog.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Oh, by the way ...

“He believed, hoping against hope …” Romans 4:18

When I think of hope and faith, I find myself bombarded by reality and an inability to trust what I cannot see.  Call me a hopeless pessimist, but my mind tends toward the worst case scenario.  I used to think this was a gift; as though I was blessed with the ability to be one step ahead of disaster; eyes on the back of my head, a nervous mind that would keep me and the ones I love safe at all times, but the longer I live the less I realize I know.  And what comes easily to some, completely evades me on my worst days, and is a mere shadow on my best.

At a Mom’s Conference last month, Sally Clarkson said “It is the glory of a godly woman to push back the darkness.”

That really struck me.  I notice the darkness around me, but often the darkness within is what assails me, and how do you push back the darkness within yourself? How do you bring light, when you sense impending danger? How do you put on the mind of Christ, when you live in a broken world? 

But if it is the glory of a godly woman to push back the darkness (and I really believe it is), I must hope against hope first in my thoughts, in order to breathe life and bring light to my home, my family and anyone who crosses my path.  For me, it’s about noticing the little and big moments of blessing that combat my darkness. Blessings I don’t ask for and don’t expect.

Today while rushing around, trying to finish dinner, fighting against my sick and fatigued body that was moving in slow motion, rescuing the food that was already on the table from a very persistent beagle puppy, and attempting to rally a family of six so we could move on with the busy-ness of the day ...  Into all the chaos that is my life, Nicholas, my sweet three year old came up to me and said “Oh, by the way …” and saying nothing, he kissed me. That reminds me of Someone else I know. Someone who knows the rhythm of my life, the height of my highs and the depths of my despair and infuses my natural ebb and flow with cloudbursts of faithfulness, calling me to hope with His "Oh, by the way..."

When I was a kid, I moved so much that change almost comforted me; a chance to start over, reinvent myself if I wanted, a fresh beginning, and yet I longed for deep friendships and an opportunity to be truly known.  This August, I will celebrate the 12 year anniversary of moving to Los Angeles – of being a part of this community four times longer than any other I’ve belonged to.  

And as far as being known? I have been blessed with an amazing group of ladies that really know me -- even my darkness and love me and pray for me, and trust me to pray for them.  I. Am. Blessed.

The spring that I was a very mature, well aged twenty year old, I just knew that no one would or could ever love me, and decided to choose contentment, and move toward a life of ministry I felt called to. Unlovable? He must have laughed that day, as He prepared to wow me a couple months later, when I met and subsequently fell in love with my Matt, whose ridiculously amazing smile had captured my attention from  across the church earlier that year.

And love has a way of changing us and making us question our instincts, direction, plans. He wanted to be a lawyer (or take over Larry King’s show) and I wanted to be a missionary (though I often wondered if Katie Couric needed a replacement).  I remember discussing with God that I could do a ton of short term mission trips on my lawyer husband’s salary … nothing would really be different. It wasn’t even a year after these monologues that Matt told me he felt called to ministry and was looking into seminaries. Huh.

And that silly little list of thirty – 30 – THIRTY things that I needed in my future husband? Well, the culmination of all those attributes in one man is not coincidental.

I dreamed of seeing the world, but as a pastor's kid and now a pastor's wife never imagined it possible, and yet I've been to four provinces, all but a handful of states, and 11 countries. Seriously -- I got to celebrate my 29th birthday in London and ring in my thirties in Poland. 

I fought discouragement at the diagnosis of endometriosis, which explained so much pain, but promised difficulty, maybe impossibility when wanting to build a family.  And then there was Lucas and 21 months later, Bethany, and I fell in love with them and started on my journey of becoming a mother.

I accused and blamed and questioned the failing of my body when our third baby was lost before I ever held her.  I hated being broken, and wondered why the one thing I ever did good was absconded. And then there was Nicholas.

And just to make sure I know I’m not broken, He gifted us with a light we never imagined – our Mary Elena.

I’ve mourned the loss of dreams and calling, and then I realize that Los Angeles is more than a little mission field and these children I’m raising are world changers.

I’ve wondered how I’m failing my children and what they’ll be in therapy for in years to come, and He reminds me that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

I've wished away or different almost every part of my body, and He reassures "You are fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).

And isn’t it just like God to break through the darkness – to reach down into all my mess, and grab my face and kiss me.  “You’re mine,” He says.  “I’ve got you,” He whispers.  “Just wait and see what I can do,” He comforts.

And when I notice the “Oh, by the way” moments He paints across the canvas of my life, I realize that unlike Abraham, I’m not hoping against hope.  I hope because He is forever faithful.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways." 
This is the Lord's declaration.
"For as heaven is higher than earth, 
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

Join us as we think about HOPE this month. Start at and follow the links.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

the greatest of these ...

            Was it many friends encouraging a meeting or sheer curiosity? Was it a desire for adventure without any obligations or a lonely heart searching for companionship in the unlikeliest of places? Destiny or pure luck?  Providence or mere physical attraction? Whatever the case, two lives colliding at just the right time can turn a world upside down, derail plans, create a reality you never dreamed or wanted to imagine.

            And how do you say thank you to the one who has led you into that uncharted territory?  The one that was momentarily foolhardy enough to accept a wager that forever changed your life – who took a chance on the unknown, just because.

            It seems odd that I haven’t even known you half my life and yet you know me far deeper than anyone else.

            Do words exist to match the feelings rooted in a heart once so afraid to trust that has been bolstered out of the shadows into light?  You’ve given me what no one else dared.

            You loved me when all you knew was the contrived best of me that I let you see, but continued to search for more. 

            You ignited interests and passions in me that had been suffocated by the status quo --  a history book will never look the same and today’s films pale in comparison with the classics.
            And isn’t that so like you? You look for quality in society and culture, always finding the best in others, and so it shouldn’t surprise me that you loved me in my darkest times … so terrifying I didn’t even know myself, but you?  You knew the heart of me that was cloaked in depression, and held on tight, never letting go.  A constant reminder that where I was, would not be the end of our story.

            Yes, you never let me hold on to the supposition that love could have two separate dwelling places.  “There is no you and me. Only us.” And we are always worth fighting for.

            You gave me license to do just that and I think only you could have lived under such a critical eye, always shining a self-righteous glare on the messiness of life, and through it all you have taught me about love.  You never pointed the spotlight in my direction, but always embraced with forgiveness and grace. So how do you say thank you to the one who by his own example has taught you more about Jesus than you ever understood in the previous years of knowing and following Him?

            You’ve held me when the weight of loss crushed me physically, emotionally, and threatened spiritual suffocation. You’ve let me grieve in my way and have prayerfully walked me through the corresponding fears.

            You’ve rejoiced with me in times of victory and mourned with me in times of defeat. You’ve created life with me, making me a mother – a new identity, and when that meant a new way of life, one less income, four children and a stay-at-home mom, you encouraged me to discover what that would look like for me, and never would you try to squeeze me into a stereotype.

            You have dreamed for me when I’ve forgotten how to dream. Your questions provoke and inspire and again you teach me by example …

            To love is to lay down your life for another, and you do it daily.  You must think I don’t notice, but the way you approach life always asking “What does this mean for us? How can we do this together?” -- You never view me as “just a mom” or allow me to believe (as I’m inclined to) that my intelligence was thwarted the moment I left the work place. It’s humbling and inspiring and life giving – to know that in the middle of my invisible years, I am actively engaged in something bigger than myself, because of you … because of us.   

            The thing is, it is impossible to say in one moment of one day what your love means, and to say I am blessed would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions.  But I can daily lay down my life for you … I can seek to serve, to give and receive grace, to create for you a safe place of comfort and refuge.

I can and I will continue to choose you every day of my life, and maybe in the highs and lows, the monotony and the craziness, the joy and the tears of us, you will know how much I love you and how forever grateful I am that you took a chance on a girl you’d met only once, that you kept calling, that you pursued, and chose me to be yours.

            I’m sure chatter, curiosity, and attraction played a part, but I am convinced more than ever before that

A man’s steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way.  Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed,
because the Lord holds his hand. – Psalm 37:23-24

"But the greatest of these is love ..." 
-- 1 Corinithians 13:13

Monday, January 20, 2014

Simply ...

Dear Heart,

Sometimes it's as if I don't even know you, like I've somehow been bolstered out of reality and find myself on the outside looking in, but never really seeing the you that I know you are ...

The extrovert who loved encountering new people -- allowing others to write on her heart.

The person who'd embrace vulnerability in order to learn and grow, and speaking of that ...

The one who ran after knowledge with parched heart never satisfied until some particle of truth permeated her soul, becoming one with the thinker.

Whose thoughts read more like written words over the proverbial spider-web wanderings of woman.

You've contrived peace, picking and choosing what you'll be from what you see in the world of mothers around you, rather than growing in contentment while discovering who God created you to be.

No matter your occupation there will only be one you -- ever.

You've wrestled with shattered dreams, broken promises, fears of failing and failures very real and rather than rising above the ashes you've succumbed to a mere fragment of the possibility you are.

It's okay to be you ...
     To forgo yoga pants for animal print and high heels -- a "mom on the go" is such because of what she is doing, not what she is wearing.
     To research history because it brings you life, rather than always scouring the internet for home remedies, discipline and homeschool tactics.
     Write down your ideas and whimsical meanderings; too few people do and memories eventually fade.
     Invite your children into the mess of your thoughts, that so very often swirl around them -- let them know how they hold your heart.
     Get out of that box you've fashioned for yourself and cast aside your vain imaginations of what you think others are expecting of you.

This is the year to live simply.

Don't get stuck in the rut of loneliness that big city living can be.

Free yourself from the supposition that someone else can do your life better than you.

Read ... sing ... research ... dance ... laugh ... cry, all for the glory of the One who created you to be you.

Free yourself from restraints of a schedule you created -- play.

Allow yourself to discover in the kitchen -- for you, cooking is solace, and peace is living simply.

Quit mourning the death of a wife your husband never chose to be his and the loss of a mother you could never be to your children.  You may never be breezy, but you can love relentlessly.

Grow in the gift of love.

You've allowed fear of failure to stunt your growth for too long.

Discover what it is to raise little hearts to know and love Jesus, but don't wince under the weight of that responsibility -- He will lead you and will be your strength.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;   
 he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11 NIV

It's been so long since you've just allowed yourself to be, that you wonder who you are.  Sometimes what the heart longs for can only be grasped when all expectations are laid aside.

And this, this is simple in all its complexity ... the promises are infinite and the One who knows you better than you could ever know yourself is with you on the journey.

You know everything I do.  
Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it. 
You are all around me --
in front and in back --
 and have put your hand on me.
Psalm 139:3-5 NCV

Rest in Him.

The you, you're becoming ...

I love new beginnings, but despite all my best intentions and carefully crafted resolutions this year began in a downward spiral that landed me in a messy home overwhelmed with responsibilities and children, but in the midst of all the noise of self-condemnation came the love of a few good friends who consistently call out the best in me (even when I've fooled myself into thinking that I'm already doing my best.)

Isn't it wonderful that we weren't created to live this life alone, but that into our lives, in many different ways we are introduced to and influenced by friends and family and those that become family in our hearts?

This year I want to discover what it means to live my one life to the fullest ... not filling it with busy-ness, but basking in all the  simple beauty of each moment -- even the ones that are chaotic or messy.  This year, part of my journey into living simply is writing with this wonderful group of friends. Check out what Staci has to say about new beginnings.

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, 
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness
I say: The Lord is my portion
therefore I will put my hope in Him.
Lamentations 3:22-24 HCSB