08 March 2016

Unexpected Blessings

Yesterday began with a list of tasks that needed to be done - along the way I found myself flooded by unexpected blessings.

It began with my sweet pup's annual vet visit. I've been researching backyard chickens and thought it might be wise to ask the doc about them. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility of added up to 4 more lives to my little homestead, I want to gather as much info as possible before taking that plunge (my sis and her family have raised chickens for years so naturally I contacted her for advice!). Turns out a clinic employee raises chickens herself. She answered all my questions, gave me info on two local hatcheries, even discussed the pros/cons of chicks versus juveniles versus adults when starting out. What a blessing!

Dropped the pup off at home and headed for the hardware store - soil was on sale and I needed to grab my first load of the season. A random thought of my sis-in-law as I pulled out into traffic...only to find her in the vehicle next to mine! I completed my errand then met her at the park for a lovely chat while watching my niece play. We touched base on life - and I got more info on chickens (she has a friend that raises them) and a site that makes it easy to find freebies around town. Blessing!

Later in the afternoon my hands were covered in dirt as I moved seedlings to the greenhouse and started flower seeds under my grow light. Unloaded soil and a roll of fencing (free from a neighbor). Walked my yard perimeter to observe the daffodils, crocus, iris, tulips, and day lilies bursting through the mulch. What a blessing to see this renewal of life!

As I sat on the couch, finishing up a blanket, my body aching in a way only yardwork can create, I was overwhelmed with joy

I love that I'm not so tied to a schedule that I can't pop out to the park for a visit. I'm lucky to enjoy a sizeable yard in the midst of a city and immerse myself in creation. Folks are ready and willing to discuss their interests and help me make wise choices. Today will certainly be filled with more blessings - take the time to acknowledge them!

25 February 2016

The Struggle is Real

Here it is, the end of February, and I find myself in something of a funk.

February has long been the hardest month for me. I long to be outdoors, working on yard projects and soaking up sun, but its simply too cold yet. I've lost count of the number of plants lost due to early sowing...one of the reasons a greenhouse was high on my purchase list this year.

I was feeling good - strong, confident - as I worked through my allotted tasks and casually surveyed job opps. The decision to change how I do "vocation" was clearly the right one for me. My friends and family are supportive. So why have the last few days felt like I am carrying the weight of the world?

In hindsight I see the problem. I have allowed those with negative opinions of my choices to influence my mindset. Instead of leaning into my Lord, relaxing in his presence, soaking up the confidence that comes with his love, I have allowed the nay-sayers a spot in my thoughts. I hear their voices as I prepare seeds for indoor start, rest reading a book, or start construction on a new raised bed.

The struggle, you see, it is real.

The struggle to trust the Lord's provision in every moment, to believe he cares for me in every way and sees/knows what I need before I do...well, its a hard place to get to and (I'm finding) more difficult to stay there.

Do I believe he'll provide jobs when I need them? Yes.
Do I have to learn how to manage/promote/run a small business with confidence? Yes.

Accepting funds for things I enjoy doing - its so hard for me to put a price on that. Its a set point of value its strange to see a dollar sign next to things. Why?

I suppose I am still learning my own value, and how much others value me. I easily recall the quiet bookworm of a girl I was in elementary school and forget the confident, outspoken woman I have become. The daily struggle to accept that I am valuable, that there are things for me to contribute to the world, that I am necessary...its a real struggle.

And struggle...well, it makes us strong, my friends. Join me in facing the work, moving forward, and resting in the presence of the Lord.

08 February 2016

When do goals become reality?

Hopelessness. What is it, what causes it, what removes it? I'm all too familiar with the feeling, and as I spoke with a friend yesterday I realized it's presence is all around me.

Hopelessness stems from the idea that life is what it is, that we are not capable of change. In my life I feel this most when I focus on the failures of the past. Weight loss goals met before rebounding back to the heights, choosing to fall for men that were not right for me, spending money when I didn't have it, you get the idea.

I found myself telling this dear friend that I had no idea when that feeling went away...but its not something I feel anymore. If I had to pinpoint it, I suppose I trace it back more than a year ago when I walked a 5K. I did something I thought was impossible, realized it wasn't, and started setting other goals to knock down. Today I find myself debt free, self-employed, at a healthy weight, active, and...

welcome to transparency

...staring down the final item on my 5 year plan: I desire a long term relationship with a man.

whew...I really just wrote that

It's easy to look back on my life and see relationships I (and others) thought were headed toward serious. As V-Day approaches it would be extremely simple to allow depression, sadness, yes hopelessness, to creep in and steal my joy. Instead, I'm choosing to praise God that I was wrong. The woman I am now? She'd be miserable with any one of those men - she's no longer me.

As I finished my run this morning, staring down the 5 mile mark, doing something I would have never thought possible even a month ago, I found myself remembering how I got there. I started off with 1 mile, then 1.5, 2, etc. I set a schedule and stuck with it. I took break days when needed and chose to enjoy the process. Similar steps were taken with financial, work, and personal growth goals. Having seen success there...I suppose a similar plan must be taken as I seek a relationship. I have to make an effort to meet people, I must invite trusted friends into the process, I must accept that failures will occur, and I must enjoy the process.

You see, I am convinced that God has prepared me for this exact moment. All the craziness of the past few years has put me in a place where I'm excited to be a good match for just the right man - and I'm betting God has been preparing the right man for me. Good-bye hopelessness - I'm ready for this adventure!

04 February 2016

Choices Matter

One of my favorite styles of book as a teenager were the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series. They put a new spin on becoming part of the story - when the main character was faced with a decision (stay on the road or check out the forest path) the reader was in control of the decision. I would check out both options then move on with the story (will this get me killed or am I going to find treasure!). 

My imagination was fired up by the notion that a seemingly small choice could have a dramatic life impact. I was responsible for the story's forward motion...just as I am in my own life.

As I've considered my options for life these past few months, one thing has become abundantly clear. I, ultimately, am responsible for the choices that I make. I can seek counsel, do research, study and seek the Lord's will...but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty I make choices. 

God does not force me into a corner and force me to choose his way. I can go against the counsel of those I trust. I can even opt to ignore all the research and do something outside the box.

I am responsible for my life. 

Who knows what my life will look like in 6 months? God. 

If I am crowing about God leading me to the choices I've made today, I cannot turn around and blame him for circumstances if/when life takes unexpected turns. God does not set us up for failure - he wants our best.

It is high time that we, the Church, accept responsibility for the choices we make and stop blaming God for our circumstances.

Anyway - that's the synopsis of my next book. Let me know what you think!

02 February 2016

Live Fearless

Why do I do the things that I do? The choices I make relate back to who I am at my core. What I find important in life dictates my decisions. Decisions aren't made lightly - in fact I'm often stifled by the "what if" factor and I consider pros/cons/ramifications of my choices.

I know how much worry, fear, consideration, hesitation, etc. goes into each choice I make. The decision to resign employment last year? That took months - but the instant I verbalized the choice I felt the relief that signifies a right choice was made. There was no fear in that moment.

In the past few weeks people have commented on this aspect of my character in various ways, but its not something I've ever given conscious consideration. "You always do what you want to do." That simple acknowledgement of how I live my life - hearing those words from family and friends - it gave me a new angle for self-reflection.

"To thine own self be true."
penned by a master of dialogue, Mr. William Shakespeare, more than 400 years ago. 

I am me. I am the only me. I am the result of DNA connections, environment, choices, and so many other things. My life can not, should not, will not, look like anyone else's. Fear can be a controlling factor - so it must be faced, dealt with, and left behind.

"Fear is the mind-killer." - from Frank Herbert's Dune

I'm alone, but never alone. What comfort it is to converse with the Lord at any time, in any place, about any thing! "Fear not, I will help thee." (Isaiah 41.13)

Living fearless doesn't mean choices are made lightly - and it certainly doesn't mean fear is non-existent.  It's about living in the confidence that I am making decisions that are right for me, in this time, in this place, at this stage of life.

The amount of joy I feel in my everyday existence? Unexpected blessing.