Words by Paige

A place to retreat for a little refreshment and encouragement

June and July 2020 Reflection - Beginning Again

Each month I am working on a practice of reflecting. This reflection consists of a lot of firsts. It is a first to combine two months of considering what I've learned. It is a first of reflection on several hard conversations I've had and from which experienced successes. It is a first of noticing how I can be kind to myself by waking up to the feelings that rise up moment by moment rather than trying to rush past them to potentially avoid what they may want to show me. It is a first for having a deeper understanding of what it means to surrender to God's plan.

As a result of these firsts I am reconsidering how to break away from how I think about a few things. The first is the idea of how to have hard conversations. As you, my reader, may agree, having hard conversations is not something we hope to wake up and do each day. For me, it is probably the absolute last thing I want to do! However, after doing some self-reflective work and learning about how I can do this in a way that brings peace to the relationship, I have learned that these conversations can take a turn from learning hard yet truthful information which then leads to good and, even sometimes, healing in relationships.

This practice has required an awakening in me, choosing to say yes to an offer to initiate potentially conflict-inducing conversations. I choose to accept the offer when it arises because of how much I care about my relationships. I actually care more deeply than I initially thought. I know if I chose to stay asleep to certain issues I could miss out on what opportunities that could give both me and the recipient peace.

Life has given several opportunities over the last two months to practice this skill. One thing I learned during my times of practice is to know that there may be ugliness in the truth. It is not going to feel good to hear. It may make me feel uncomfortable but that is okay. I can sit in it, I can feel it, and I can consider the other perspective. *Sigh*

I am eager to learn both before and during the process. It helps to remind myself that I am not alone in it. I know that God was right there with me. Then, after a while of sitting in it, I could respond to the invitation to come rest again.

See, this work is not easy and, again if you are like me, this practice may be new. I am a beginner at it. I don't like being a beginner because it takes time to learn how to do this, how to do it well, to know how much can be taken in at once, and when to stop for a period of time. And I will just add what a blessing it is that I can actually choose to stop for a period of time. That is not everyone's experience. Although the invitation to rest is open to all. Let me know if you would like to know more about that! :)

During this season of learning, looking back, I see how often I chose to be disengaged in these types of conversations. While there are several reasons for my choice that changed on a daily, and sometimes momentary basis, they all came down to preferring to selfishly keep the peace I had been given, I believe from God, instead of considering sharing it with another person that may need it. Choosing to engage and seeing how I can share this gift of peace instead of letting it SIT INSIDE OF ME is a first for me. I know I have it but I didn't realize that I could be hoarding it.

Why would someone hoard such a beautiful thing? One answer that comes to mind is fear. Fear that there might not be enough for both me and the other person. Fear that they may take it all. This fear would often drive my decision making to choose to keep the peace in my “reserve tank”. By choosing this egocentric way I have learned that I actually ended up experiencing a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). See, I missed out on what the experience of sharing the peace could bring by initiating and walking through it in conversation. Stockpiling what I have been given to share is where the missing out really occurred.

As my eyes have been opened to this truth, I have not yet been able to determine how to reorient myself. God has been faithful to lead me. His leading actually took me to a place of rest that gave me the strength to later rise again. This is not what I expected His plan to be.

As I have rested I have learned that His plan has a few pillars. The first pillar is true resting. For me that means doing a lot less than I have been doing both externally and internally. This rest is a part of the plan because knowing how He created me, it is something I need in order to take more steps. The second pillar is trust; a downshift of rest. This is knowing, by reflection of God's faithfulness, that He will provide the sufficient resources needed to do what He is inviting me to join Him in doing; to actually wake up and join in. The third pillar is another downshift of trust; faith. Faith that He will be with me in the work, both in the times I feel peaceful and in the times I am scared.

In all of this I am learning to be relentlessly kind to myself as I learn and grow. I was encouraged to do that in an episode of my favorite podcast, The Next Right Thing, Episode 31: Be A Beginner (https://emilypfreeman.com/podcast/the-next-right-thing/31/). I hope that this reflection will provide some encouragement for you the next time you are presented with the opportunity to be a part of something that may seem too hard to pursue. Consider what fear may be pushing you away and causing you to miss out on what the experience could provide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lamenting - asking God the hard questions

This morning on my run I was inspired to write this morning's morning page. I heard two great podcasts that encouraged me greatly. I have been sad lately. I think some had to do with hormones but more had to do with the state of the world.

We’re in phase three but things don't feel much different. I drive by many places and I don't see many cars in the parking lots. I don't feel like there is a lot of life being lived. Then I turn on the news and read yet another story of people being treated so inhumanely that it is nauseating. More life being taken.

In the weekly podcast of "The Next Right Thing", I was encouraged to ask God the hard questions. To work through the lament and acknowledge the suffering. Well, here it goes...

Why is there such a limit on life even though we’re in phase three? Why is the virus still such a threat? Why weren't we more prepared to handle it? Why are so many people having to die? Why do certain people feel so entitled to life?

Sin. This world is full of sin. Sin and suffering. It has been since the day Adam and Eve chose it over God himself. Sin is not new. Humans have been doing it since the beginning of creation. The sin has led to suffering. The suffering is not new. It is just highlighted, at this time, to the entire world.

Most news of suffering doesn't affect me personally. Maybe that's part of the problem. For various reasons that I am not going to explore right now, much suffering passes over me.

Lament - Why is that? Why have I been put into this position? Why was I born a white female in the upper middle class? Why was I able to get an education?

Yet I had a family with it's own issues. Parents that argued and still do to this day. A brother that suffered many things perhaps unnecessarily.

What I learned about lament today was to follow a formula, so to speak, to guide the process. As I heard the steps I was reminded of the Lord's prayer.

God has been calling us to lament, to ask Him the hard questions, all along. It goes like this -

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed it be Your name

(Jesus, in Heaven, you are worthy of praise amidst all that is going on in the world today because, even though sin exists in this world, You defeated it on the cross. This suffering will not last forever.)

You're kingdom come and will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

(What is your pace for me today? Where are you at work that you are inviting me in to? Open my eyes that I may see it.)

Give us this day our daily bread.

(I have needs today. Please meet them. I need wisdom to order the tasks that lay before me to know what is best to do and when. I need supernatural strength and energy to parent my kids. I need grace, love, kindness, and faith.)

Forgive me of my sins.

(Forgive me for being prideful, for wasting precious resources that You've so abundantly given me. Help me to use what I have for Your glory.)

Help me to forgive others who have sinned against me.

(We are all sinners. I am no better than all these insanely sickening stories about those people who treat people so unjustly.)

Keep me from temptation and harm.

(Help me see when I am being tempted to sin, to know the way out, as You have promised to provide. Keep me, my family and friends safe. In Jesus' precious and holy name, Amen.)

First podcast reference - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-next-right-thing-with-emily-p-freeman/id1268826768?i=1000483149455

Second podcast reference - https://www.buildersandbackers.com/press/creative-action-begins-with-lament

Coming out of the Pandemic and Being a Beginner Again

 I was on set four of six for my arm workout. I usually enjoy this workout. I look forward to it. It has its challenges but not as much as some other workouts I do. The two most important things to do are, to pay attention to how my body is feeling and to take a look at what weight I lifted with the number of reps I did on the first set. Then, based on set one, I can decide on how to proceed. Take a minute to pause, look within, and look back to know and to determine how to move forward...

I work out more often these days than I ever have in my life. I don't say that to brag. I do it mainly because it helps me clear my head of the swirling thoughts. The thoughts have increased over the past few days and weeks as life has begun to open back up to a new normal.

On this particular day, earlier this week, I felt like I was carrying a lot mentally. It's been two days that I haven't been able to write and I was really starting to feel it. Since that day I have learned that I am pretty sure that, barring a family emergency, I need to do morning pages right after I get back from the gym or stretch.

For those of you who read this and wonder what morning pages are, they are just a simple time to sit down to write about anything and everything. The author of them suggests you fill up three pages writing long hand. I set my timer for 15 minutes to type. It is very therapeutic. I think it is saving me a lot of money I may have otherwise spent on sharing these words with a counselor.

On this day all of the factors I was considering in order to make some decisions for that day and future days were making me anxious. I didn’t want anyone to be mad at me. I am a 9 on the enneagram, if you can't tell.

All of the decisions I was working through involved places to go. On one hand I am thankful that there were options to go places but, I think, because I hadn’t had to make so many of these types of decisions at once over the last two months or so I needed to take it slower than I was trying to make myself do.

Take today. Ask for His guidance. Wait. Trust. Remember. Because of the power within, which for me is the Holy Spirit, I have more strength that I can see on the outside.

Like I said at the beginning, I'll say again both for myself and for you, my reader - first, remember to pay attention to how the body is feeling. Second, take a look at how many reps and what weight was used with the exercise on the first set and gauge (or, in this case what worked when this was last done or something similar to it was done). If this is the first time, allow the experience of being a beginner to take place. Then, based on set one, consider how to proceed.

The View from a Window

New windows, a clearer view, brighter colors on the trees, brighter sunshine coming in.  With these new windows I am able to see the beauty that nature beholds. 

I am sitting in a different seat to write today. I am at my kitchen table. I am not here by choice but because the office is still a mess. We got new windows yesterday. They look pretty amazing. It's kind of crazy how to view can change when you're looking out of a different window.

The leaves on the trees seem to be a richer green. The grass looks like it has more life. Even the tree trunks seem to be bolder. The interesting fact is that the leaves didn't change color. Neither did the grass or tree trunks. The window in which I am using to look at them changed.

What windown are you using to look out into the world?  How does the view look to you?  Does it seem dull and lifeless or bright and hopeful?  I think many people may say the first option because of all that is going on these days.  In the midst of a pandemic, highlighting of racial injustice and, somehow, a still fast-pace moving culture in some ways, it is easy to not see the hope.

So what can be done to change what you see? First, I invite you to simply consider the window in which you're using to see what the world is showing you. Take a step back. Is it dirty? Old? Is the wood around it rotting? How long have you been using it?

Are you curious what it would be like to use another window to look out into the world?  Do you think it could change the way you see things?  I am learning that when I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see that is only when I can view the world as He intended; to see the beauty there is to behold while also seeing the people and circumstance that need a touch of His love. Sometimes what He shows me is not beautiful. It is the sin in my own heart. It is ugly but He doesn't leave me with that view. He helps me look at more. His love. His forgiveness. His grace.

If you considered the invitation to look through a different window, what do you think He would show you? Another benefit to consider if you choose to look through another window is how it changes the view on the inside. From where I sit as I write this my kitchen looks like it got a facelift. The light above the table is shining brighter.  What you see can change both on the outside and inside if you look out a different window.  I encourage you to consider what window you will look out of today and may the view brighten your soul.

Father’s Day 2020

A surprisingly cool June evening. I sit in the golf cart catching up on email and articles I’ve wanted to read for the last week or so. We’re spending some time together while he plays his Sunday round. He walks towards to cart after hitting a nice shot, in my opinion, on the fifth hole. His dark skin against his white polo is so attractive to me. He works so hard at everything he does. I am constantly amazed by his drive (for life and for golf). I definitely got more than I bargained for when I married him.

I remember noticing his work ethic while we were dating. It attracted me to him then. Fast forward a little over fifteen years later the attraction of that drive has gone through some ups and downs. Not because of anything he has done. No; only because it has not waivered. In fact, his drive has actually deepened.

I am a person who can, admittedly, get distracted easily. He is not like that. The more I’ve gotten to know him over the years the greater my curiosity has grown as to why that is. Over the same amount of time I have come to learn that I am a curious person. I like to know “why” to many things. I remember asking that question a lot as a kid. Eventually I stopped, though, because I felt a sense of announce from those I sought answers from. The spark of curiosity lit again in college. It occurred as I learned about the fascination that is language development.

It rose in another way when I met him. I was curious about his curiosity towards life and his drive to find the answers he sought after. He studied math and physics. I think you have to have an unwaivering curiosity to dive deep into those subjects. He has that. Which brings us back to today. His job also requires a drive and he is not easily deterred from it.

He brings that to the course too. He’s continues to work on his golf game even when he can’t figure out certain aspects of it. They say it’s a challenging sport. He would agree and it is because of that he loves it and keeps practicing. He has the drive and curiosity to continue to work at it. Those character qualities inspire and encourage me. Earlier I said I got more than I bargained got more than I bargained for when I married him. I had no idea how much more.  I am hopeful for a life time to find out. 

Happy Father's Day 2020 to the man who is the greatest earthly father I know!

For the Love of Food: How Reading and Writing Can Inspire

As I sat at my kitchen table finishing up the Asian fried chicken and sushi leftovers my sweet friend from Japan had made for me and my family, I found where I had left off in the current book I am read “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. I just finished reading about her grandfather and the explanation of his grumpy attitude. “As we saw every Sunday arriving at Parkway Gardens for dinner, my grandfather lived with the bitter residue of his own dashed dreams.” (Becoming, chapter 3, pg. 39) I turned to look out my window. My thoughts were as follows, “I didn’t realize how sucky it really was for people who were black to achieve their dreams. They were simply, yet not, looked over by those in managerial positions. They had skills to offer and people in leadership positions chose to miss out on seeing what could have been if they’d simply given them the opportunity to work, to learn, to grow. Sad. Sickening.”

As that thought digested, the next one came just as quickly, “I am really enjoying this book. It is so interesting! I am looking forward to the next one on my list (Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, by Ruth Reichl). I am realizing that people really can write about anything!  I love food. I wonder how many food memoirs are actually out there? Why didn’t I find out about them when I was a kid? I loved food then too!” Following that I began to wonder, “If people can write about the food they love or their life story, then I can write about the things I love or my life story too.”

Then a moment of inspiration hit. Reading fosters inspiration which fosters creativity which fosters writing. Reading leads to writing and writing is one of the greatest sources of communication. In order to help people communicate they must read. If they can’t read they will struggle to communicate. People must learn to read!  

Writers have the power to inspire. I am learning that when I listen I can hear inspiration speak. I am learning to listen for inspiration.

Facing the Storm

I love the picture. I love how it explains how I was feeling yesterday. So many uncontrollable situations in front of me. The interesting thing about this picture is that it is impossible, at least for me, to tell which way it is going to break. The wave looks powerful, thick and monstrous. Where the person stands is not surrounded by land on all sides. Why is he standing so close to the edge facing the wall of water? Why isn't he running towards a larger piece of land; to a place of safety? Is he preparing to embrace the storm? Does he not care that the wave could break on top of him potentially pulling him into the vase and angry ocean? Or smash his body into the unforgiving pavement?

This past week or so there has been a great rise in the media of a storm surging. Despite the rise though, the truth is that the storm has existed for a long time. I personally thought much of it had "moved off shore" and was no longer a situation that I should be considered about. It wasn't until I decided to stop, look and listen, to pay attention, to what was the storm was really doing that I noticed the realities in front of me. They are realities that scare me. I have been in a place of ignorant peace for a long time. They are realities that I need to face though. There is a lot I have to learn. There is a ton of information available to be taken in. There are conversations that need to occur. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 ESV

picture source: Tropical Storm Cristobal approaches the Louisiana Coast.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press NY Times Monday Briefing email 6/8/20

 

Laughter, Face Time (no screen or internet required) and Looping - What I Learned in Spring 2020

Well, May has come and gone. I’m not sure how you feel, but I am glad to move past it. I am also thankful that I felt like it moved at a steady pace. There was some sort of rhythm in my world: homeschooling, managing household routines and connecting with family and friends in ways that were socially distant and emotionally satisfying. Amidst all the uncertainty, I was thankful for this rhythm.

Even before the pandemic began, I started working to create a habit of being a better listener and making the habit ongoing. As I listen I try to note what I am hearing. Over a one month time period, I then review what I have noted and see what dots show up. I then see what dots need to be connected so that I can see more clearly what I may otherwise miss. Afterwards, I like to share those thoughts because they always encourage me and I hope they encourage you too.

This month I asked myself three questions. Those questions were; what was the funniest thing that happened in May? What do you miss? What will peace look like in June? It was refreshing to listen out for the answers to these questions as I walked at my own pace in May. The funniest thing that happened in May was the overall laughter I experienced as I spent time with my kids. First, I will admit that I have a heavy tendency to approach life from a very serious stand point. Laughter doesn’t happen often for me. As I type that last sentence I feel sad. No matter though; it is what it is. It is said, “Live, love, laugh”, right? I’m working on all of those.

For those fellow readers out there who are parents or caregivers to humans that are school age, I am sure you can relate to the fact that the majority of your waking, and possibly sleeping hours, this past month were shared with kids. This month the majority of my time was spent homeschooling my kids and it was a challenge. Even as a former special education teacher I found that teaching my own kids was not something that A) came easily and B) I found a natural desire to do. I was blessed to be able to talk about those challenges with a friend and fellow mom who’s also a seasoned homeschool parent. After sharing my struggles we laughed a lot as she could relate to what I was going through. It was good for my soul.

After school work was done, I found myself spending time with my kids playing a new-to-us card game called “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza”. It is an energetic game that requires listening and quick reactions. If you have not heard of it, I highly recommend you check it out!

Some other times I found myself laughing were: after reprimanding one of my kids for spraying the other with Febreze (#thingsyouneverthoughtyoudsaytoyourkids), watching my son try to hit a balloon in the air over and over in prep for a game he would play during our at-home field day, and, finally, hosting the at-home field day with a couple of my kids’ friends and watching them play various games.

Dot #1 – Laughter can come from playing games. Need a laugh? Play a game.

Next I asked what I miss being able to do pre-pandemic. I found that I missed hanging out with friends the most. I am thankful that opportunities are on the rise to do more things socially. I am trying to listen out for them, take advantage of what I can, and not complain about the time it takes.

Some other things I missed were: going out to eat at restaurants, going to spring yard sales, working out with friends, and my coffee table being in the middle of my living room. To explain that last one briefly; I am trying to be a nice mom and let my kids keep up a fort that has taken over our living room. I have not been able to come up with a reason why it should come down, and honestly, I don’t want to spend however long it might take to wash all the blankets and sheets they’ve used. I’m curious if I will start to miss the fort once it is taken down and my coffee table is back in my living room.

Dot #2 – Hanging out with people is worth all the time it takes as it’s also good for the soul.

The last question I asked was what peace might look like in June. As I write this post June is here and where I live we are in the middle of phase two for things to open up. My kids are done with all their school assignments even though their technical last day isn’t until June 13th.

We are entering, yet again, a new season and I am still working out what it might look like. In order to do this and to walk through June with peace, I feel like I have to continue a habit I started in May. That habit is called looping.

After listening to a podcast by my favorite author, Emily P. Freeman, share how she has been getting things done, specifically working from home, during the stay-at-home order. In her explanation she mentioned the term “looping”.

The way looping works is pretty simple. You take the list of items you want to do and work on one at a time. You do it until it’s done, or what needs to be done with that item is complete for that day and then you move on to the next item on the list.

In a time where there is less structure and predictability to life yet doing essential tasks such as caring for yourself and your people is, looping has given me a peaceful way to approach the never ending job that is the to do list. Specifically I have applied this to my cleaning routine, office routine (emails, calendar, meal planning, etc.), and project list. The pace of productivity has slowed down but so has my heart rate. I struggle a little less often with the shame of not getting as much done. I accept the day more for what it is and walk in it. Knowing that the item on my loop list is not going anywhere, that the item waiting in queue isn’t either, that I am doing the best I can with what I have, my time, I can work with a little less stress, and leave the rest until it comes back around in the loop.

Dot #3 – Looking for some peace in your summer? Trying looping your to do list. You may find it is good for your soul too.

As I continue to move into June the questions I ask will be a little different. Also inspired by my favorite author I plan to consider the following; what was a moment of celebration in June and to name something you’re reconsidering as a result of the last 30 days. Lastly, what is one thing you’d like to start doing in July?

June has gotten off to a tough start. For now, I will leave it at that. I look forward to sharing what I hear during June next month.

"Pillows in a Pandemic, Interval Running and Your Work"

I just heard my washing machine go off. The towels are done. I will put them in the dryer before I go for my run. I am going to do interval running today. I have set a goal to beat my latest time – 10:33. I enjoy working out to beat my latest goal. That is something I am working on too; learning how to set goals. I have started to do this by writing down what I have done and then reflecting on it so I can get a gauge on what some realistic goals could be to make for the next time. I need to put the towels in to dry before I leave for my run. Our dryer is old and towels take the longest to dry. I also want to wash some other things today. I need to decide between a new sheet set I got last weekend at Aldi and some new pillows I got yesterday at Costco. I had tried to order two from Walmart through my grocery order last week but they were out of stock when I did my pick up. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Are people really hoarding extra large pillows? Possibly. I am sure that sleep is something people are doing more of these days. With less time needed to be out of the house for work, errands and/or entertainment there is more time to sleep in, take a nap or go to be early. I secretly hope this is true because I know this pandemic is causing various types of stress for everyone and sleep is a great way to help your body reset so that it can be equipped to handle what the next day or moments will bring. Or maybe it is like the employee at Aldi said, “The warehouses are prioritizing sending essential items right now.” She's probably right but does that mean Costco has chosen to make pillows a priority? Ok, so that last part was a bit of a digression. Back to running. I run but I would not call myself a runner. I run for the physical and emotional benefits. Recently I decided to start trying to improve my time (or so I thought). I use the Map My Run app. After a few times of noting how, I noticed there were three things that the app marked for me: my time, my pace and the distance I ran. Time is the one that tells how long the entire run took. Pace is the one that tells how long it took to complete a mile. Distance, well you know, how far you went. FYI - I run a little over a mile each time. I’m still trying to determine what I should focus on in order to improve. Should the goal be to make my interval run in less than a mile? Should my time be less than what it was before? Should my pace be faster too? Do I need to choose one or focus on all three? As I pondered these decisions I thought about my writing. I recently joined an online writing community called hope*writers and now I am in the process of transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing for my reader. (By the way, thank you for choosing to be my reader today.) During this process I have been considering my pace. I have noticed since I’ve joined hope*writers that I am doing more reading/learning than writing. In fact, in the last two weeks I haven’t written or shared anything but I have had a lot of ideas that I’ve noted. My reason has been homeschooling during the pandemic. I don’t know how I can do both. This week I have also been reminded of the encouragement that “your pace is your pace; you’re not behind” and “what you share doesn’t have to be perfect before you share it” (from Emily P. Freeman and others during this past week’s Tuesday Teaching). I hear the first one easier than the second. So here is what I have to share for this week. My goal for next is to share at least one thing that has encouraged me so that it might encourage someone else. The last two weeks I have woken up and gone to sleep more excited than I have in a long time. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about something. Maybe when I was planning my wedding or when I was about to finish with school (any season!)? The feeling of excitement makes me feel like I am about to go on a roller coaster. The best example I can give is Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It is one of the few roller coasters I can stand to ride as I succumb to being a woman in her mid thirties. Ironically, this ride is not like most roller coasters. It starts off slow and then shoots you off down a track that leads into a pitch black tower of twists, turns and drops that come unexpectedly, even if you’ve ridden it before because you can never quite remember when those twists and turns will occur. While I am excited these days, I am also nervous. Similar to how the roller coaster slowly pulls out of the station are the first few steps of how my writing life has begun. It started with creating a blog a little over two months ago. Then, just under two weeks ago, accepting the invitation to join hope*writers. Next, I started to read a book called the book “The Right to Write”, which I learned about from being apart of hope*writers. Then, embracing a challenge given at the end of the first “chapter” in the book to write until I filled three pages (although I stopped when my timer of about 15 min. went off because I had to tend to some other things). I felt like the “ride” was about to shoot me off down the track. I feel this way because ever since I spent those few minutes writing that morning, the ideas haven’t stopped coming to me. I feel so excited about them I can barely type them into my Evernote app because my hands were so shaky! Thank God for the person who created autocorrect so that I don’t have to do as much of it myself and can try to have my hands keep up with the words in my mind! I also feel a sense of joy and peace that I have not experienced before. While I look forward to sharing my words with an audience one day, the sheer pleasure of letting them out and putting them together is a gift in itself. It breathes life into my soul. It connects the dots of thoughts that swirl around in my mind. It brings peace. Continuing on this path and looking ahead, I am wondering if this is how God intended our work to feel. I know that those who read my words may not be called to write but I hope that my words will plant seeds of ideas for you to take time to see what your work is and allow yourself to spend some time doing it. You may not always feel the sense of joy, peace or excitement at first, but I encourage you to keep searching and working until you find it. Trust the process. It may start out slow, like Verbolten, but just be ready for it to take off! P.S. – When I got home from my run I discovered that my dryer was broken. This slowed down my pace for the day and changed my plans. This caused me to take some extra steps such as texting my neighbor and friend to ask if I could use her dryer. I had to choose to be vulnerable and admit my need for help. I also had to make a service call to schedule a repair. Upon the reply I found out I would be waiting a few days for someone to come. It makes me wonder if everyone else is using their dryers to dry the pillows they bought up at Walmart! No matter. Although this will slow my pace, having to cart wet loads of clothes over to her dryer comes with the bonus of me being able to see my friend more! Let’s face it, still being in the middle of this pandemic, any excuse to see friends is great! I wonder how this may affect my writing this week. To be continued…

P.S. - Here a video link to Verbolten for the visual learners out there and also for those who just like videos ☺

https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/roller-coasters/verbolten/

What I Learned in April 2020 - STILL IN PROGRESS

In the past year I have been encouraged by my favorite author, Emily P. Freeman, to spend time each month considering a few questions and see how that information can help me move forward into the next month with some idea(s) for how to approach it. 

This is the first month I have spent time each week reflecting; probably because it was so crazy and I know that writing helps me process through craziness.  The questions I considered were - What was life draining?  What was life giving? What’s one thing I want to leave behind going into May?

For this month I found that doing so much for my kids was draining.  The school managment, trying to support the emotional adjustment to staying at home, figuring out what we would eat together for three meals a day and how to teach them to be more responsible to tend to the messes that insued from all of us being home all the time.  While some things were necessary, like feeding my people, I realzied that some things weren’t as necessary; at least not to the detail I initally thought they were.  It was that, doing more than was necessary, that drained me.  As a result it also made it hard to rest at night.  

On a brighter note, I did experience some life giving things this month. 

It is actually a list.

1.  "be relentlessly kind to yourself".  I am quoting this because it is from a podcast I listen to faithfully called "The Next Right Thing.  I believe it was in episode 120: What to do When The World Shuts Down that Emily P. Freeman shared how important it is to practice this during such a unique season in out lives.  While I agree, I am also learning that this is a practice I need to do daily not just during a pandemic.

Additionally, in this episode, she shared some more words of wisdom  - name what is true. What do I notice around me?  I took that step further to  ask myself "What am I thankful for?"  This is a practice I have tried to develop over the years but it has grown stale.  However, after hearing this podcast my energy to consider such things was renewed.  I took a few moments to ponder, in the midst of the uncertainty, what could I be thankful for and it helped me see that there are many things in my life that have stayed the same and some that have even improved!  A few of those are - more family meals together, the joy of seeing my kids do crafts, play outside together and build amazing forts with almost every blanket, pillow and matress we own.  Last is a scripture from Psalm 16:9-11.  I won't quote it here but I highly recommend that you take the time to go back and reread it yourself.  

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2.  Plan in small bits right. I am slowly learning that it actually helps to guide what could come next.  There are additional pieces of encouagement in Psalm 16, verses 4-8 and 11 that speak to this truth.  I recommed you read them for yourself. 

3. Call, text or Marco Polo someone.  Both giving and recieving these helped lift my spirits.  Often I would think that I didn't have time for them  because I had so many tasks on my to do list.  However, this month, noting how much better I felt afterwards helped me understand the value of choosing to give my time to it.  More to be said about this can be found in Psalm 16:3. :)

4.  The reminder to have a daily “rest” time.  I am currently writing this blog post as a part of my rest time for today.  I have been able to get a lot of writing done during these times.  Still, I would  like to add that my house is not perfectly peaceful at the moment.  My kids have gone from playing "..." and getting whipped cream all over themselves to playing on the piano with deep passion (aka at a pretty loud level) making it challenging to concentrate even while my peaceful guitar plays on Spotify. I will need to go back and read Psalm 16:9 to remind myself to continue this important practice in the midst of the caious.  :) 

5. Do something for someone.  After some inspiration from a friend I have started this with my family.  One Friday morning I chose to ...

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6.see what they’re may be to look forward to Ps. 16:11

What’s one thing I want to leave behind going into May?

Leaving the heavy “no’s”/refusal bc my hands are already full of my own worries and fears; walking lighter so I can say yes more to what opportunities may come next How to pull a muscle in your back while carrying laundry and turning out a light at the same time...

Hope Realized - STILL WORKING ON THIS ONE...

In the middle of this unique season I am leanring that I can't rush things that are intended to be finished yet.  In response to call from my church's homegroup, I recently began reading a book called “Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family and Church”. I like to sing. Please don’t read that as the ability to sing. I do not posses that!  Instead, I have learned the gift of adding sign language to the lyrics of songs.  So when I am alone, as I sing freely because I think no one is close enough to hear me, I sometimes also sign along with the songs.  It creates another level to express the message the songs provid.

As I read chapter two in this book I was reminded that singing in the sense of worship to God is something that Christians are commanded to do. I will admit that I had a hard time seeing the words “sing” and “command” in the same sentence. I like to sing and have never thought of it as a command. The truth is I don’t want to think of it as a command. When I heard the word “command” I think of something that must be done without the element of desire involved. However, as I kept reading I learned that the Bible says in James 1:25 that this command is given not to bring me into captivity but to give freedom. I hadn’t given much thought to the truth that in connection to the command to sign, when given from God, are meant to be used for our good.  

It reminds me of the command you may hear from a doctor that you should exercise to provide your body with the physical input it needs to experience physical benefits; the command to sing is intended to also given to provide our souls with the spiritual input needed to experience spiritual benefits. I am not a doctor and do not claim to have an understanding of all the reasons why one should exercise but I do know that there is great benefit to it for overall physical, mental and emotional health. On another side of the same coin, it is important to note that it is something that should be done not to expect immediate benefits from, though they may occur, but rather to experience benefits later on.

In the reading of this book and verse I was reminded that singing provides the same opportunity. Additionally, the freedom that singing brings also provides cleansing. Just like exercise can clean someone of the physical excess that weighs the body down, singing cleanse the soul from the excess that is weighing it down. While I know that cleansing is ultimately good for me, the process is not always enjoyable. Still, the truth is that the cleansing process cannot happen without first my acceptance to the fact that it is necessary.

As I read and reflected on the command to sing, a song came to mind that I heard recently.  It is called “I Shall Believe”. I actually heard Sheryl Crown sing in on a T.V. special in an alternative for the American Country Music Awards. With the requirements to social distance, all the artists performed songs from their homes. I am not a country music fan but I enjoy listening to these performances.

When Sheryl Crown introduced her song she said that during tough times she often turns to her faith. As she sang it reminded me of another song I had heard. After a quick Google search I learned that another musical artist named Matt Brouwer sang a song with the same title. As I researched it more I learned that the majority of their lyrics were the same except for the third line in the first verse.

Sheryl’s version says,

“Come to me now

And lay your hands over me

Even if it's a lie

Say it will be alright

And I shall believe”

Matt’s version says,

“Come to me now

And lay Your hands over me

Will You find me tonight

Say it will be alright

And I will believe

In Shreyl's version calls out for comfort, even if it isn't lasting while Matt's version calls out with confidence because he is asking the faithful One. 

Just like I don’t like the idea of the command to sing, I don’t like the idea of singing songs that are not to my liking. This book shares the idea that gratitude is what produces song. When I think about gratitude I think about things I enjoy or like. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary gratitude means to be “appreciative of benefits received”. It is rooted in the Latin word “gratus” which means, “free”. It is in the expression of what I enjoy that I find freedom. What about the things I don’t like? Should I be grateful for those too? Latin gratus — more at GRACE Like exercise, I enjoy singing once I start doing it. When I am riding in the car or working around THS house and it is my choice as to which song to listen to, I can easily be tempted to spend time looking for the perfect song, rather than just listening to and enjoying the music that plays. I’m working on listening. Why do we want to stay in the same place? Why does it take hard things, like a pandemic, to open our eyes to the need to move into a new place? Proverbs 20:27 - The spirit of You is in me, as a simple light like a single candle, used to give light to the inter parts of my heart, deep within to my gut. I honestly felt stuck in many ways in the “old” way of life; wished for a way out, for “permission” to do things differently Sing along the way... As I meditated on things I was https://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-signs/b/believe.htm https://socratic.org/questions/where-is-your-stomach-located https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grateful https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk01qxwhJKx0ypXKf5OAOBqgI1TBn8g%3A1586444183356&source=hp&ei=lzePXru0Ev-qytMP1pyuoAQ&q=what+does+latin+word+gratis&oq=what+does+the+Latin+gratus&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQARgAMggIABAWEAoQHjoECCMQJzoECAAQQzoFCAAQgwE6AggAOgkIIxAnEEYQ-QE6BQgAEJECOgUIIRCgAUoqCBcSJjBnODdnODRnOTdnODlnODJnMTA0Zzc0ZzY2ZzczZzY5ZzBnMTAzSh0IGBIZMGcxZzFnMWcxZzFnMWcxZzFnMWc1ZzBnMlDHBlj0NmCORGgBcAB4AIABgQGIAaAJkgEEMTUuMZgBAKABAaABAqoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab


My COVID-19 Blog - how it all started...

When the idea of starting a blog first came to me I jotted down these thoughts.  They aren't very cohesive but the they're real.  I'm sharing them for two reasons.  I want to be able to look back and remember the development of my writing.  I also think it's important for the readers to know how the wrtiting began, so here you go... 

Week 1 -

On one hand it feels like someone is trying to turn the Titanic (all the hustle and bustle of daily life is slowly coming to a halt). On the other it feels like I was running a marathon, my heart rate was at a steady, calorie burning level, and something came up in the road that caused me to come to a complete stop; not good for my heart rate. Sudden adjustments like that are unexpected, uncomfortable, unwanted, unprepared for.  But what about the kids? How are they doing?  On the bright side they're learning technology ediquette (Ex. How to write a clear message to a teacher.  A  challenges I feel like we're facing - what’s the point of a schedule? As a ridiged, rule following 9 on the Ennegram (ignore that last part if your unfamiliar with the Ennegram), I love routines and scheules (and lists and almost all things organization, until I get overwhelmed.  Then I love snacks and sleep more.)  Yet, I can’t help but wonder how beneficial they are during this time?

Week 2 - I googled "how to let your kids play in the rain".  This idea came to me after writing a familiy member an email expressing my concern of "stay at home order" + rainy day #1.  If you can't tell by my Google search, I'm kind of a rule follower.  Okay, there's not "kind of" about it.  I am a BIG rule follower.  The rule is - if it's raining outside the kids should play inside."  However, giving the current pandemic most rules are going out the window, including playing inside on a rainy day.  My kids must have known I am a strict rule follower because when I told them they could go play out in the rain they were extatic.  Ha!  While they played I got prepared for the inevitable mess that I knew would ensue.  I grabbed towels and composed a plan for them to reenter the house being soaking wet from head to toe.  They had a great time and I was learned that sometimes it's ok to let your kids play in the rain. 

Week 3 - see weekly review prayer...

Week 4 - see "Whispers of Hope" post


Whispers of Hope

4/7

Yesterday was the first day of spring break for the boys. It’s different this year. In case you’re reading this 20 years from now, our world is going through a pandemic. Nothing like this has happened in over one hundred years or so. But enough about that for now, because it is such a life shifting event, I don’t think much explanation is required to explain it’s effects on daily life. I’m don’t want to give time elaborating on what is seen in what can feel like overwhelming waves. Rather I want to share about a new experience that my boys and I had as a result of this historical event.

Since all the typical spring break destinations, both local and abroad, are closed, social distancing is the expiation and a stay at home order is in place, limitations are thick to find a place to go to just breath. Thankfully, I was introduced to a “new to me” park in my local area. New Quarter Park is an amazing little oasis; it has several biking and hiking trails along with several other amenities to enjoy. A unique amenity this place offers is a butterfly habitat. The idea of seeing something like this sounded intriguing on a normal day but more so today because, well I’m not exactly sure why yet. So the boys and I went.

Since this park was new to me, I had a difficult time locating the butterfly habitat. Thankfully, after making a couple of phone calls, a park guide came to meet us and point us in the right direction. As she explained where to go my unawareness of the terrain created anxiety for me. She sounded so confident in description of how to get to where I wanted to go. She sounded so familiar with the area and her description made the walk ahead seem so easy.

I felt like she could sense my uneasiness and did her best to calm me with more than one way of explaining how to get to the destination as well as an attempt to point out some of her directions on my map. Unfortunately I could not receive this aid due to the six feet of social distancing requirements. I felt guilty as I had to step back as she moved towards me. “I don’t want to seem weird but…” I said. She replied, “Oh yeah. Sorry.” With that I had to take her words and the map I held in my hand to forge ahead.

Leading my boys, we began to walk. I didn’t like the trail that the map had planned out. It looked longer than I wanted to walk.. I just wanted to take a few minutes to see some butterflies and move on. It also had a deep curve to it that I was nervous to take. I wondered why it was designed that way. It upset me somewhat. It seemed so unnecessary. It seemed like the trail could have continued on the straight path it initially set out for. It wasn’t until I walked on it that I saw why it was designed that way.

As we came to the curve I wasn’t looking forward to, I noticed that the terrain next to the path grew steep. It was then that I realized that the if path would have continued straight we would have had to walk down a steep grade, risking unnecessary dangers. Rather, the path’s curves lead down a gentle descending curve that eventually came to the destination I desired.

At the beginning of this post I didn’t want to focus to the current pandemic the world is in. There is so much about it that I would prefer not to acknowledge – it’s unpredictability, it’s unfamiliarity, it’s impact on life and death. Specifically this week’s news has posted that it will be the hardest week yet. Not something I want to hear. For my family personally, we have not experienced a great impact. I do not know anyone who has died from this virus but I do know a couple of people who have gotten sick. Even still, their level of sickness was not to the extent that required hospitalization, thankfully! Still, I don’t like that this week is predicted to be the hardest thus far.

This week is also Holy week; the week before Easter. This year we won’t gather in church buildings to celebrate the greatest event in history. This is a mark in history. It is a curve in the path of what has already been laid out for us to journey down.

Like the beginning of the trail I walked on yesterday, I didn’t like the unfamiliarity of it but the idea of seeing the butterflies pushed me on.

That same path has caused me to consider this path were on with this virus. It is new. It is uncomfortable. It requires walking a way that is uncharted (social distancing, staying at home for an unforeseeable amount of time). It is sad. We were not designed to walk alone. But just like I walked on that path, taking one unfamiliar step after another, I began to notice something. Intermittedly I began to see one butterfly go past me. I hadn’t even arrived at the hoped for destination yet. Still, the butterflies showed up unexpectedly. It gave me hope to keep going even though they didn’t show up all at once or even more than one at a time. They flew alone as in small waves of encouragement. “Keep walking. Come this way. Where you seek to go is just ahead.”

As I reflect on this experience of a new trail to hike to simply see some butterflies and experience some fresh air I can’t help but sense God gentle whisper, much like the flutter of a butterflies, as they gently moved past me on the path; “Keep walking. Come this way. Where you seek to go is just ahead.”

As we go into what is predicted to be the hardest week thus far I am reminded of the similar words He speaks in His word “Come to me, all who labor and heavy laded, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn form me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Keep walking down the path, not only will he meet you along the way with gentle whispers of hope but remember you can trust that He is leading you is to a place of rest. 

Thanks for giving of your time to read this today,

Paige
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This is my blog.  It's brand new to me.  On here you can know me as Paige.  I plan to share my thoughts as I process the world around me.  I'll add more to this later.  Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this!