Popping my head into one of the preschool Bible Adventures rooms on VBS set up day, I asked a younger mom friend this question. Scanning her classroom I saw a tent set up. Indoors. There were also gray sheets draped over round tables, cave-like, and camping gear placed around the room.
Children, hers and their friends, crawled in and out of the tent and table-caves happily. The atmosphere was fun and intentional. It was kind and caring.
My first thought was, What a great room! What a gift of time she is giving to serve at VBS this week with her young children. Look at how she is setting up with them playing alongside of her. I remember those days well. Sort of. What was that blur, again? Yes! I did that, too!
Her eyes met mine as she answered.
Well, I thought things were going pretty well until I went out and looked into another room. Now I don’t know.
Laughingly, but not really laughing, I said, You broke the cardinal rule of life which is . . .
We both knew the answer and reminded each other of it together. . . Don’t compare!
In this instance it was, Don’t compare YOUR Bible Adventures classroom cave with the one next door or down the hall. Keep your head in your own room.
Soon it will be teachers. Don’t compare YOUR second year classroom with the thirteen year veteran across the hall. Or writers. Don’t compare YOUR blog or post or submission with the one trending on social media. Or mothers. Don’t compare your home, children, schooling choices, resources, the list of things we can compare there is endless. Or women. Just don’t.
This very day. Today. I left Sharp Shopper, and noticed another woman emptying the contents of her cart into her car. I began comparing, Did she find better deals than me? Why did she buy a flat of those? What did I miss? Do I need that, too?
I bought the things I needed for my family today. She bought what she needed for her. We both did well.
It’s not that simple, and yet, it is. Good work done with our hand to our own plow is good work. We all have the choice to bring ourselves to this cosmic equation and step up with the gifts and tools we have been given to use.
In the words of P!NK ~ No one can be just like me anyway!
So put those blinders on and go be you! You are amazing! You are doing it, whatever it is that you need to do. Carry on! That is all.
I recently searched flight after flight to Seattle in September. Trying to hold onto summer, I was simultaneously preparing for fall.
There’s something about information overload and hundreds and thousands of flights and choices of airports and airlines and times of departure and arrival. There’s something about window after window opening up on screen and all of the airport codes blurring together that makes me want to yell, STOP!
I question the blur. Is it my forty-five-year-old eyes or just looking at a computer screen for an extended length of time?
I question my heart. Is this really a good idea? Really worth it?
I know that it is. Even when everything surrounding the planning and stirring inside feels really big. No turning back, now.
Just days ago my heart was encouraged by two friends independent of, and unknown to, each other. One came to drop something by. The other came for coffee.
At the end of the day, my heart was richer, my education fund fuller, and my dining room prettier with a new way I had arranged the plants, one of which was a gift.
Just days ago, friends dropped by a stash of bread, various types, because they thought we could use it. We can. The growing kids in this house are many, and there is always room for toast.
At the end of the day, the kids were fuller, the freezer was fuller, and the bread drawer was fuller. All gifts.
I know this is the right year. The time to do this work is now. There is kindness within the raw and the real, and I don’t have to look far to find it.
Sometimes sleep comes hard. The transition from awake to asleep isn’t easily bridged, and I have to trust that if I breathe deeply and close my eyes, I will cross over.
Sometimes nightmares come immediately. Fear engulfs me. Terror swoops down to grab me.
Sometimes I drift off to happy places. The best kind, really, that I don’t want to leave. Then I wake. I am still here.
Usually it’s the crossing over into sleep that is hard. Once there, I stay put, and even a bad dream or fear doesn’t keep me awake. I push through to the blissful other side. If I do wake, I can roll over and drift back.
It’s been a long time since I have spent the night in restless exhaustion, but last night happened. It reminded me that the insomnia struggle is real for many and has been for me in the past.
Lying awake listening to my husband’s gentle snoring reminded me of the many times I labored great with child during the night, not wanting to wake him. Knowing that when things got real, he would need his energy, I didn’t want to rouse him too soon. When all was said and done, he would need to carry on with work and life while I got to rest.
He is in a season of intensity at work, and I am in a place where I can be home during the day. We both don’t need to lie awake. The sound of his sleeping was music to my ears and background to my tears.
This time is so big. So much is happening. June brings with it heavy ambivalence, and my body feels it intensely this season. Add to that my past history, my current status, and the events coming up this month, and it’s a recipe for a perfect insomnia storm.
There was a similar season over 17 years ago when I struggled with sleep. I know this, because I vividly remember lying in my bed in the little house on Green Street and envisioning filling large black trash bags with my worries, concerns, and fears and hauling them to Jesus to cast at the foot of the cross.
I know he is always there and always faithful. Here I am 17 years later as proof of that! I hate having to continually learn and practice trusting that presence and faithfulness. There is a lot of underlying fear. Does God really know best?
I woke this morning later than I had hoped. Groggy from lack of refreshing sleep, I shared my restless exhaustion with Steve. I mean, I know I slept, but it just doesn’t FEEL like it.
Checking email for the morning’s Bible reading, I noticed an Anonymous donation to my GoFundMe account. I saw the newest Red Tentpost was up, and it grabbed my heart. Dissolving into tears, I collapsed to the floor and into Steve’s arms where he was sitting and reading. He held me while I cried.
To all who have contributed on or offline to my endeavors, both financially AND with words of affirmation or prayers, THANK YOU. The timing of Anonymous was truly a God-send and reminder that I am seen, as was the theme of Becky’s post on Red Tent Living today.
Friends, I covet your prayers during this very difficult season of transition and journeying into the unknown while carrying the known with me. If you are in my circle and have needs that I am aware of, you were being lifted up in prayer in the wee hours of the morning. I can’t say exactly when, because I refused to look at a clock, but you were there with me in spirit.
I continue to be amazed by how this year has not looked like I anticipated back as the end of 2015 rolled around, and I began pondering what 2016 might be. God is surprising that way.
One of the biggest things I am learning is to just keep moving forward and through it. I am learning to continue to trust the process when it appears in surprising forms.
Last week I typed a quick update about the next step I was taking with the Lay Counseling Certificate, that of acceptance, and was blown away by the number of views on the blog and words of encouragement through text and facebook likes from so many.
It has been that way since.
When Angela launched the Go Fund Me site, she set $8,000 as the target goal, which felt so high to me. She reminded me that in addition to tuition, there were plane tickets ~ which she had researched ~ and travel expenses for four trips. I felt grateful for an objective friend who could help me count the cost ~ literally.
Four days after the fundraising site launched, I was able to ask Angela to adjust the goal from $8,000 to $6,950 to reflect money that has come in in both on and offline, as well as an early registration scholarship that I received. Already I am seeing provision for this road ahead.
I continue to move forward.
I will continue to ask Angela to adjust the fundraising page to reflect the actual amount still needed and to update the blog with ways that funding has been supplied. There are stories behind stories and so many connections that the process can feel overwhelming ~ in a good way. Good overwhelming is still overwhelming.
Thank you for walking with me, Friends, and for encouraging me through this process. I am already learning and growing, and it’s only the beginning.
Seeing a large picture of my face pop up in my facebook feed was more than a little disconcerting and overwhelming. There are lots of feelings swirling, but mostly I feel humbled after seeing Angela’s work on the site and reading the words that others wrote as testimonials.
Please check out the page here to read more about what I am already doing/have done and consider contributing to the cause, if you wish. Any amount, large or small, including the investment of prayer for the journey ahead is most welcomed.
I am fully confident in God’s provision for the task that I have been given. I know that he has been faithful and will continue to be. This is the biggest jolt from my comfort zone, yet.
One of the unique aspects of this program is the in-person, group work that is done to better equip participants to sit with others in-person. To do that, one must be physically present. In-person. To be in-person means I must travel from east coast to west. To travel costs money, and though I plan to do all I can to keep costs low, I appreciate having a friend who is helping me to count the cost realistically.
I am committed to using any funds raised solely for this purpose and for furthering my education in the area of counseling, as I firmly believe that this is the chapter that is beginning to open for me on the edge of my next season.
Thank you to all who have encouraged, been curious with, cheered me on, walked alongside, allowed me to walk alongside, or just clicked around on the blog. However you have arrived, I consider your presence in my life a gift.
Be Blessed, Friends!
This is half of the inside of a card created by Angela in fall ’15 to encourage me to pursue the Lay Counseling Certificate. The other half was full of words of encouragement meant just for me.
My son recently performed in a piano festival. Each pianist played two memorized pieces that were evaluated by judges. A score of superior from each judge, double superior, meant that the performer was invited to play one of their pieces in a recital the following day and receive recognition and a trophy.
Now, this could be the humble brag post about how my son surprisingly received a double superior, but it is really the be your best you post that I need to write for myself to read later. So that is why I am writing it!
The festival took place on a Saturday with performance times beginning in the morning. A sister who also participated was in the 9:00 time slot. Son was in the 10:00 block. Participants were expected to be on time, stay for the entire hour listening to the other performers, and then check the postings on the wall in the hall to see if they received the coveted SS.
Mornings are challenging at our house on a good day, and there is never really one of those, so you can imagine what early Saturday performance mornings are like. Getting out of the house dressed and presentable was not a pretty sight or sound.
Son threw on some clothes, missed his coffee, iPod, and warmup on our piano, and jumped into the car with sister and me. There was much grumble-grousing. I was not in the most generous of moods and was lecturing on how we can’t all be in total comfort all of the time. There was really no other option than for us to all go together and boy to wait for his performance time. The use of my phone to pass the time softened the blow slightly.
I listened to nine-year-old sister play two memorized pieces almost perfectly and was impressed by her first festival performance. Based on past experience with siblings I was fairly confident that she might have pulled off a double superior. I said nothing but congratulated her at the end.
This is why I am not a piano judge.
At 10:00 it was brother’s turn, and I found him waiting in his performance venue. His skill level plays on the expensive upstairs piano in the auditorium. We sat together waiting for his turn. I could sense nervousness and heard negative self-talk coming from him and reminded him to just relax and do his best.
A fellow performer from the same studio went before him and played two complex pieces. The faster piece was filled with intricate-sounding runs up and down the keyboard. Son leaned over and said, I can’t do that! The dismissive shake of his head and shrug of the shoulders had me sensing even more of a downward spiral coming on, increasing the negative momentum, grinding him to a standstill before he had even started.
I leaned over to give him some motherly advice, and this is what came out. . .
You don’t have to play like the other performers. Just play like the best YOU in this moment.
I look around at my friends with their unique callings or their blogs with their voices and think I can’t do that. I can’t write about homeschooling or health or the benefits of _________. I haven’t designed a product or written a book or come up with a better way to __________. I haven’t gone back to school like _______. I don’t have that advanced degree like ___________. I’m not working from home in a job that I love like _________. I can’t sing like ___________. I am not a businesswoman like _________. I’m not as wise and spiritual as ____________.
I don’t have to do what other people are doing. I don’t have to compare myself to others. I just have to do what I do and be the best me in the moment.
Son heard his name, walked up onto the stage, and soldiered through his piece. I listened on the edge of my seat, slightly cringing at the areas where I heard him holding back due to nerves and lack of proper morning preparation. I coped in my classic way, through paper and pen in a tiny journal
“Mornings are never smooth at our house, so a Saturday morning with early piano performances at a piano festival seemed doomed from the beginning. Son’s score should really be interpreted through a baseline lens ~ meaning this is how he performs cold ~ no coffee, no warm-up, no sleep, cranky, and irritable. I am proud of him just for being here. It is hard to keep a 13 year old boy on track! It is hard to keep a 44 year old woman on track!”
He returned to his seat next to me, head shaking, hair flopping as he sat down. Whispered analysis of all that went wrong in the piece came my way, as the judges worked on his score at their table. I enjoyed the other performers, and then exited the hall to regroup with his teacher in a room downstairs.
Talking together, we debriefed on how the morning had gone, when a teenage boy sauntered up, face flushed, head shaking, eyes full of disbelief. What does it mean if your name is highlighted?
It means adouble superior, answered his teacher. That is what my son received.
This is why I am not a piano judge.
The following afternoon found us in a different performance space enjoying the fruits of his labor, of him being the best him in the moment, as we listened to the honors recital together.
Whatever you are, Friend. Be the best YOU in the moment! Bring yourself to the world and step right up.
Last week started with a lofty goals post and ended with sex. Both were big draws to the blog. I knew about the goals link-up and had planned on it. It felt good to get some goals down on paper and out there for others to see.
I had not planned the timing of my Red Tent post. A backstory was written to go live whenever it ran, which happened to be Thursday. That was a day full of cyber and real-life engagement.
It started with texts full of kind encouragement. There were questions about how I was feeling. There were likes and comments and shares on Facebook. I was in my classroom, as usual, all day, so I wasn’t following the cyberspace chatter. After work I checked in to find several alerts and comments and even some new Composting the Heart page likes!
Far from going viral, it was still my farthest-reaching post, confirming what we already know. Sex sells.
So here I sit at the beginning of a new week, reflecting on all that has happened and all that might come. Big feelings stir inside, and I wonder, Is it worth it? Sharing my goals and hopes and dreams? Risking and writing and opening my heart?
Last Monday morning while reading in Psalm 31, verse 5 gave me pause.
Into your hand I commit my spirit, you have redeemed me O Lord, faithful God.
Often I think of these words in connection with death, not life, because in Luke 23:46, Jesus commits his spirit into his Father’s hands and breathes his last.
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
In David’s context, however, he commits his spirit while he is living. Reading this early Monday morning, caused me to fill with questions that I began to journal.
How do I commit my spirit into your hands, Father?
What is it to trust in your work on my behalf?
How do I rest in the space of un-ease? Unknown?
This looking ahead to dreams and goals and plans feels too big, yet I commit my spirit to your hands. Please show me the way!
I was given a new perspective and visual of handing my spirit to God for safe-keeping, not just in death, but in life. It gave me a renewed sense of peace that God already knows his plans for me and is working them out. Looking back over last week, I was grateful for the reminder when the stirring of unrest began to fill me.
I am still pondering this committing of spirit. Still practicing the trusting. Still learning to rest in the unknown and in the Father’s redemption of my life.
I am still learning to Bless the moments that we feel you nearer.