rest. be. breathe.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough with my life.

As if I’m not doing the things God intended for me to do.

As if there’s so much to do that’s not being done.

As if I’m not inspiring anyone anymore.

I have this mental to-do list in my head of the things I want to do, create, write, etc. right now. Somehow I think I have to do everything right now. Because life is short.

I know so many creative and successful people: artists, performers, photographers, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers, and the list goes on.

They are all doing, inspiring, creating, now.

Often, I look at myself, with nothing to offer but a few meager words that I cant even find the time to write anymore, and think I have nothing.

And then I have the tiny human that soaks up all my time and energy.

I have been thinking back to that time when I wrote three blog posts a week, guest writing on other blogs, meeting other writers for coffee and beer, and a had steadily growing following. (Do you remember one of the first blogs I had? Why did I let that domain go!? It’s now available for over $3k.) I was growing as a blogger, creating connections, writing things people wanted to read, and sometimes, getting paid for it! Had I stuck with that, who knows where I would be now? But now? I don’t know if I even have 5 followers and I haven’t written much in the last couple years. I faded.

But then I read Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner and remembered why I stopped blogging. I had reached that point where words weren’t enough anymore. Instagram was growing. Social media was flourishing. There was, well a lot of work in maintaining an image and a presence.

I didn’t want to work on it. I didn’t want to create a perfectly styled photo that hid the mess. I didn’t want to spend an hour on a stupid photo. I wanted to have a real life with meaning.

So I left it all. I just wanted life as it was.

“[F]or just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.”

― Lev Grossman, The Magicians

And I realized why I had this shift…..

Because Jesus was all I needed to focus on.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

I stripped off the weight of  being a perfect vegetarian. Having less stuff than someone else. Having rainbow everything to ‘show’ that I was a ‘hippie.’ Needing to juice every morning. Needing to knit something every day. Needing to be consistent to grow my readers and followers. Needing to have perfect, inspirational photos on my Instagram feed. (Note that need is actually “need” as it is not a real need.)

I left the constant feeling of “need” and just looked to Jesus.

Jesus is calm. Peace. Strength. Protection. Rest. Love.

Still, there is a part of me that is sad at the lack of current creative outlet. It’s hard. It’s hard to find time in between work and preparing meals and taking care of the house and raising a headstrong, curious child and taking online courses and studying the bible and working on my marriage and staying connected as much as I can with the people in my life. Knitting gets discarded in a cloth bag in the back of my closet that hasn’t been used in years. My hula hoops are tattered, in the back of another closet. My juicer sits in the pantry, untouched for even longer. My garbage overflows with discarded plastic packages of convenience.

But I have been reminded that this is just a season. A season in which the only thing I need to worry and focus on is my family, especially raising my child, the relationships I have with others, and my work.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The creative outlets can wait. The creative outlets will come back. They’re just hibernating right now. Rest. I will continue to be. Be the wife I need to be. Be the mama I need to be. Be the friend I need to be. Be the follower of Jesus I need to be. God has plans for me. Always. And I am perfectly fine and wonderful just as I am, where I am, in this moment. And that tiny human? He needs me right now. Just as I am. To just be there.

Just be. Just breathe.

Those phrases I love so much, yet forget to really understand.

Breathe.

Be.

That’s more than enough.

And how fitting that it is the season of winter; a season of rest and hibernation.

Keep my eyes on Jesus.

Rest.

Yes. Time to rest.

Be.

IMG_0440.jpg

doorknobs and mornings.

My mornings have not been calm and my soul is weary.

I’ve been waking up (and actually, going to sleep) with terrible headaches in odd places from my widsom tooth extraction. The water in the shower has been cold more often than hot and I’ve barely showered in the past couple months. My husband has been leaving the television on in the mornings more than usual lately; the blue glow from the screen reflects through the entire apartment and makes me cringe. I’ve been lacking vegetables in my diet. My mind has been running on speed for days. I’ve barely journaled. I’ve been skipping coffee (which, health-wise, isn’t a bad thing). And as much as I love my job, I’ve been sucked into a little bit of drama at work and it’s been challenging — a lesson in picking my words carefully and doing the best I can do. I’m exhausted.

First world problems, I know. Nothing compared to the hardships that millions of others endure on a daily basis. And when I think about that, I kind of feel guilty for wanting to complain. I try to be thankful for everything I have and look for the good in each situation.

And hey, last night we went to Menards and bought cabinet hardware for our RV.

That’s exciting, right? And expensive. Handles and knobs can get quite pricey!

But I’m still exhausted.

So this morning, I lit a candle and prayed for strength. Wisdom. Relief.  R e l e a s e . . .

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:29-30

seeking peace.

The snow is falling outside, the temperature hovers around zero, the holiday lights are sparkling and I’m sitting here looking over bills while sipping on peppermint tea. We missed last month’s internet bill and owe more than double this time. Then there’s all those other bills and expenses coming up this month. On top of stressful finances, my to-do list is never-ending, I feel like I am unable to make time for the things I really want to do, and I’m hardly feeling rested at all. I took the entire month of November for myself and feel like nothing was accomplished. All I can think right now is:

“This isn’t where I wanted to be right now. I don’t need many of these things I have.”

I aim for a simpler life. I am still getting rid of things, It’s not that I want to settle, but I’d really like everything to fall in place. So I can fully rest. In six months, we’ll be picking up and moving out of state. Even more to do. What tasks stay? What can I let go of?

I know what I want. I know who I want to be. And yet, I feel like I’m constantly changing. And I just want to focus on my heart. On people. On food. Nourishment. God. The stuff that really matters. Yet, all these other distractions are getting in the way.

And oh, my heart is so full as I think about all the kind people, beautiful moments, and precious things that fill my life. Looking around and marveling at how blessed I am to have this small, warm place. Heart aching for those without a good home. Wishing I could give every homeless person a bed. Why do I deserve to have so much? Why are others struggling? My heart breaks for all the anger and pain and loneliness in this world. I wish I could help everyone. I wish I could live a completely peaceful life and spread it to others.

Over the past couple weeks I have been thinking a lot about how my life is overfilled. I cringe when restaurants offer large platters of food. I cringe that I can even afford to eat a restaurant. I have so much food. So many clothes. A car. An education. And I’ve been feeling kind of guilty. So many people in other countries don’t even have a reliable meal everyday. They don’t have jobs. They can’t provide for their children. They can’t afford school. I’ve always been somewhere aware of this but it hasn’t affected me until now. It is so unfair that I have all this and others don’t.

I think about the children around the world that eat one small meal a day, if anything, and feel disgusted with myself for a cabinet of ‘food.’ I think of the homeless person on the streets of Chicago without warm clothes and hate that I have two winter coats and countless scarves. I think about all the people who have lost loved ones in the past year and kick myself for ever thinking saying unkind words. Then I think about my choices and ponder whether or not each choice leads me down the path that I want to be on.

I’ve had an unusual amount of kindness in the past few weeks. So many unexpected acts of kindness, so many sweet words, and so many beautiful smiles. My heart has grown with love for this world. My eyes cannot stop soaking up all the beauty that God created.

And above all, I seek peace.

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. -Psalm 34:14

How to balance all of this? I have been reflecting on this verse (and other verses about peace) quite often. I pray for peace in everything I do and say. I pray for peace at work, with my friends, with my husband, with our finances, with our families, and within the world. I crave peace.