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Fighting “Still”—and Other Struggles of the Season

Fighting Still—and Other Struggles of the SeasonI am not very good at keeping still. In fact, I turn still into a such a multitasking event that I defeat its entire purpose. Last night, for example, I sat down to watch The Peanuts Movie with my youngest son, and I turned it into a moment of buying a subscription to a creation science magazine for my oldest child for Christmas.

I was always the child who had to play a board game with myself or work on a scrapbook project while watching television. Even when my friends would come over to play Barbies, I would sing commercial ditties or manage multiple tasks at once. Ask any one of my childhood friends, and she will tell you I drove her nuts! Being at rest is not a concept I have ever understood. I have always been driven and project-focused. The night of my bridal shower, I stayed up late for hours to make sure all thank-you notes were immediately written, stamped, and addressed.

For a long time, I chalked it up to an amazing work ethic. I was the ant of Proverbs 6—and proud of it!

Proverbs 6:6-9, ESV

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?

Right now, for example, I am writing an email reply to my mother while

–looking for dressy heels for my daughter at Famous Footwear online, 

–writing this article, 

–checking on the dogs, 

–and thinking about the school evaluation forms I have to fill out and promptly sign and return to special education office in the school district. 

I also might stop and wrap one present.

I might be productive, but I certainly am not focused.

What does still mean for you?

My still consists of the few moments Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Finding Peace for Stress Junkies Like Me

Stress Junkies Like MeStress has been piling up in my house of late. College application deadlines. New braces. Another (brief) parking lot accident. And add to that every major road leading out of my town is currently under construction. Yes, massive stress bubbling under the surface. It’s the kind of pressure that leads to hypervigilance.

Deadlines do this to me, especially life-course-determining ones. Anxiety used to be my roommate. I kicked her out a while ago and changed the locks, but once in a while she slips in through an unlocked back door. That girl knows no boundaries, I tell ya!

In the middle of one of those days, I took my son and husband to the airport for college visits (landing in rush hour traffic both to and from Boston) and made it home in time to get my daughter to dance, throw a nicer shirt on, and attempt to manage back-to-school night at the high school jumping between the schedules of a freshman and a senior on a massive campus. It felt like an episode of a teen sitcom as I rushed around trying to slide into each class before the bell rang.

So it was in my great hurry to arrive at the last class that I cut a corner down a hallway, and, to my great surprise, there was a low-to-the-ground, black end table next to a couch in the loft area between halls. I imagine high school students gather and are aware of the furniture there—but not me. I was not aware. It simply was not in my line of vision. I had Algebra I, Part 2 (whatever that is) to get to, where my friend teaches the class. What a nice way to end the long day, except for this: Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Top 10 Healthy Ways I Am Grieving

Top 10 Healthy Ways I Am GrievingMy father recently passed away, and while I knew it was heading in that direction and he certainly had fought a good fight against what turned out to be seven cancers over 30-some-odd years, there was more to grieve than just his death. Death has a way of putting what is unhealthy under a microscope and forcing it up to our eyeballs to view it whether we wish to take a close look at it—or not.

If you are grieving a person, a relationship loss, or even a shift in the plans you had for your life, some of these may work for you. I am not an expert on grief. I share this as a layperson going through the motions in real time.

10. Color!

Say what? Huh? My therapist handed me an adult coloring book. If you need one, here are some examples at my friend Mary’s site (which is fun to check out anyway): inspiredbooksguide.com. Some similar books can be found at Walmart for $5. I spent the holidays coloring through visits with family, a funeral trip, and some relationship dynamics.

I almost laughed out loud when my therapist recommended coloring, but I gave it a try, and I have to admit: It is so grounding. I often pray as I color. It causes me to be still, so I can hear and not just talk when I pray. I use twistable colored pencils so I don’t have to keep sharpening.

I even color through my children arguing! We all have to usher the peace in any way that we can, right?

9. Rest, Be

As Dad was passing and even afterward, I found it difficult to focus. Everything moved in slow motion. The rest of the world seemed to be moving at a swift pace while meanwhile I floundered between stunned and weary. I gave myself permission to go to bed earlier, whenever possible, and to catch a catnap here and there.

I also expected less out of myself for a while. I didn’t want my days to be spent escaping between the covers, which can be its own red flag after a while, but I also didn’t try to take on the world. I lowered my expectations for each day and focused on the few things that had to be accomplished, like feeding and driving family members to activities. I didn’t write a lot or even keep my blog marketing schedule going.

One of my favorite songs is “Be Still” by Selah. I needed someone to record this concept for me because I am usually resistant to Be Still. I have been attempting to get to know Be Still for a while now. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Grief and Loss, Ministry Moments

 

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Be Still and Walk with Him Awhile 

BeStill

“’Be Still’ isn’t just for crisis mode.
That’s simply where we found it.
It is a new way of life, ensuring the health of our family.”

Today, I am so excited to be featured as a guest blogger at “The Urbane Flower.” My piece, “Be Still and Walk with Him Awhile,” can be found here.

Check out this uplifting blog site that my new friend Heather Gee put together!

I look forward to Heather guest-blogging here at “Espressos of Faith” very soon!

 

 

 

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Getting Out of the Dinosaur Line

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I’m not sure what’s going on here…preparing for another Ice Age? Looking for Godzilla? There’s “organized dinosaur activity” in my family room this morning, and I’m not totally in on the secret. I’m a little afraid. 

The thing is: I’m starting to feel like those dinosaurs, like I’m following blindly toward a finish line without really stopping to think along the way. For all they know, they could be headed to the tropics as they march along together without questioning. I feel like I’ve been going through the motions, too, lately: Get this kid from school to go to an hour and a half orthodontist appointment, only to get that one back to school and grab the other one from a different school for a different appointment. Life can feel that way sometimes. Schedules start to define us. Suddenly we are marching in a dinosaur line.

Zooming out a little, I have to wonder if somewhere along the line, the first dinosaur said: “You should take at least three [fill in the blank here] classes, try this after school club, be in a book club, and while you’re at it, try your hand at the trombone and xylophone.” And the second one in line might have questioned it at first, but he decided maybe letting someone or something else dictate his life for him was easier. So he went along.

And then on down the line.

By dinosaur No. 6 in line, they stopped questioning and followed the herd.

For a while, I think I was one of these dinosaurs. I jumped into too many commitments thinking somehow I could keep it all going. I followed the first few good ideas I heard and then realized, halfway in, that I was walking in a stress pack with a bunch of other overtaxed dinosaurs. We had gone miles together without even realizing how worn out we were.

I started this year off saying I wouldn’t do the dinosaur walk. It was okay if I didn’t follow Brontosaurus the exact same way because I’m a Stegosaurus, after all. But that pesky T. Rex sure had some great ideas, and I figured out pretty quickly I’m not a T. Rex. I’m a Stegosaurus. So I said “no” to the T. Rex. And as proud of myself as I was for saying “no” for 35 seconds, drawing a boundary over here, “no” often leads back to another “yes” somewhere else—and I was back in that line again.

When you look at that beautiful dinosaur trail, it looks so appealing and orderly, doesn’t it? They look like they have purpose. I want purpose. I bet you do too. But, I figured out that purpose didn’t come from following every great idea out there. Sometimes, it involved trying new things out on the trail, but often, it meant getting out of line to regroup.

This year I told my kids: “If you want to do marching band, you can’t be in three youth groups. If you want cross country, you can’t dance every day.”

But I forgot to tell myself that.

Oops.

Everybody else out there always makes that line look so attractive. Oh, flag football! Let’s try that! And, woodworking club, awesome! Crew? Let’s sign up! Diving team? Go for it!

And those things are awesome. I wish I could keep up with it all. But I think we’re all out there marching around like tired dinosaurs because we’re either driving people to these things, or we’re in them ourselves.

For me, it’s really not a sports thing (refer to latte blogs…walking to the mailbox is a sport for me). For me, it looks more like this: “Oh, women’s Bible study? Awesome! Let’s do that every week. And teach Sunday School. And do a book club and a moms’ prayer group! Then maybe make a bunch of muffins. And do a fundraiser (it’s been a while)! And send off care packages.”

I’m a “let’s keep busy and do” junkie. I bet so many people can relate.

The thing is: I love each and every one of those things—as long as I don’t think they define me. As long as I remember to jump out of line now and again.

I wonder if we followed this particular group of plastic beasts around, if we’d find that they each eventually figure it out and drop out of line. Maybe they end up in the tropics after all and wonder how on earth they ever got there without noticing?

I don’t think I’d make it that far. I want to know how not to over-involve myself, even when other people have really great ideas of what we could participate in together.

I want to be more still.

I want to get out of the dinosaur line and learn what it truly means to have God “establish my steps.” I’m pretty sure that’s where peace and calm can be found.

Psalm 131:2, David speaking

But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

Proverbs 16:9, Solomon speaking

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

*This blog can also be found at Mom 2 Mom Link-Up #24.

 

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