Make Room

Sitting in the sunshine on a misty beach one morning after a run, I am filming a video for my hubs. It’s been 6 weeks since we’ve seen one another face to face. Our plans for reuniting, fugacious.

I’m in my natural position for prayer...meaning I’m breathing, alive.
I’m on a daily quest for the Spirit to move in me regarding my Word for the Year; PURPOSE.
My walk, expectant. My eyes, upward. My heart, wide open.
I’ve had a great season in Costa Rica and also had the opportunity to fly up to Guatemala to spend some time. What an incredible country! It just drove home in me our love for culture and travel and people and an appreciation for this wide world of experience and chance and imaginings. I pray we never lose our sense of playfulness for adventuring and shenanigans. It’s one on a list of a million things that bonded us as a young 20-something couple, and as we age, I continually pray God’s favor on our health and an everlasting enthusiasm to traverse the globe.
But this morning, as I soak in a few moments of sunshine, I know it’s time to return to the sticky, hot of the South. Leaving one appreciation and devotion for another. One palm-treed, golden sand beach for the city, foodie delights, white sand beaches, and mountains to climb.
I talk this morning, post sent video, to my hubs and we get a ticket home for a couple of days later. Just enough time for those last-minute cocktails, dinners, hugs, and to get packed.
Is there anything better than a homecoming? Both here and there. Trading the friend-filled nights of delicious, home-cooked vegan food, wine, laughter and reunion with the open arms of my readied hubs as I traipse off the plane, suitcase, backpack, and surfboard bag slung over my shoulder.
Being alone for a month and a half (ok truly never alone but you get my drift) has allotted me some wonderful time to soak in the presence of God. NOT that I can’t do this anytime, but there is something about that set-apart, independent time that the Bible talks about. That night-silence, when it’s just you and your prayers and the whispers that you only hear in a placid mind until you fall asleep to a cicada-fueled symphony.
Day after day I felt the infusing of God on my heart as I prayed about PURPOSE.
Unknown
After returning, I was flung headlong into dog slobbers, Indian food, trail friendships, morning coffee brought to my bedside, and the bottomless love of a soul mate. Also back to our church family, which proved to be one of the best weeks to come back as we sat in worship with Kari Jobe and her husband Cody to sing a gorgeous song as a blessing over humanity. Joining that with a teaching on our “stories” and how the stories in our lives and what we believe affects us. We all have stories. I have saturated myself in this message over the past week. Considering the ways I have implemented the Word of God into my life and trying not to miss the bigger story of what God is telling me and teaching me. To not fill in the space that is in me, meant for him, with unnecessary baggage, so that His bigger story can be told in me and through me.
Over the years as G & I have made transitions in our lives together... BOY have there been plenty, we firstly go in seeking guidance through prayer and know that when there is tension or conflict to look at it through a lens of goodness. Our God lens. To get quiet and not allow doubt to cut off what God is speaking in our lives.
We BOTH found it remarkable that as we are sitting together in church last week , the title of the message was MAKE ROOM FOR THE NEW.
Oh Lord, how you know our hearts.
“Make room for the new even when you don’t see it coming.”
I love a good Spiritual nudge.
99b7a98f13b39afc83ff38b76a42f41d
Just over a year ago, we made a move we were both scratching our heads over BUT are now seeing the fruit from. A plan that worked out, just not quite in our plan-frame, is now syrup-dripping with goodness. The two of us at odds over a few things. He; feeling led in one direction on a major purchase, and me… n o t quite feeling right about it in my spirit. We continued to pray. We both felt the sparks of confusion and tension.
“Did you know,” our Pastor said, “that God can be giving you exactly what you want, but the tension it takes to produce growth is super uncomfortable?” “Things may come into your life in one season as a problem or opposition and are the same things God will use to create opportunities to know him better and make him known.”
Have we made room to receive the new things that God has sent us that we’ve asked for?
Sometimes, I have the feeling that I may NEVER see the purpose, or at least to the extent to how God uses me. I DO know that although it’s not right in front of my eyes, it doesn’t mean I haven’t had an impact. I get glimpses...but we don’t see the way God sees. I don’t always see how something I’ve said or have done has affected others good or BAD minutes or years down the road. I am human and know I am not immune from being a fool sometimes. Then….there are those fleeting moments when I get a small peek and see in tangible ways how I’m fulfilling His purpose. My daily prayer is always “allow me to be open for YOU to use me in any way you see fit and allow me to always turn others towards YOU.”
I know He uses our past experiences, good and bad. The pain I walked through decades ago, that has long-since healed, may just be the balm that someone else needs for their own hope to bloom.
I DO pray for discernment. Because some people are just out for a hurtful story to learn about you and not because they are interested in walking along side you in healing. If you’re out to judge a book by its cover….you’ve come to the wrong illustrator.
I have a confession. It will sound TERRIBLE...but when we knew God was giving us the opportunity to move to the southeast United States, and by saying, “giving us the opportunity,” I mean….uprooting our semi-laid plans, for His flawless recipe...my first thought was “but….that accent!” I know, I know! Hate me now...I’m just being authentic. So….as we are sitting in church together this past week, I am NOT kidding AT ALL...our pastor is talking about CHANGE, and he says “maybe you didn’t want to move to Charlotte...because you hate the southern accent.”
Ummm…. I sat real still and moved only my eyes around through the hundreds in the  congregation because I was SURE everyone was looking directly at me.
Boy, did I prejudge what is and isn’t good for me. What limited thinking.
e639117bcd3e503c365fb6014a25ce23
I am happy right now to be back with my love. I’ve realized that I’ve allowed some doubt to creep in and cut off mid-sentence, some things God might be speaking into our lives. Like our Pastor has said “When God is speaking don’t stop at the comma! If you stop at the comma you never see the..“but….”
Trust me, that tiny, diminutive, oftentimes inconsequential conjunction can connect you to a multitude of healing. Of fulfillment. Of joy! It can take you from, “I feel stuck” BUT “I know new possibilities are coming my way?” From, “I have guilt from my past” BUT “God is a God of forgiveness and second chances, never guilt. He has washed me clean of my past, only to use my experience to help someone else.” It can take you from a diagnosis BUT turn you towards His healing, learning to rely solely on Him and open an opportunity for family and friends to soothe you with their hospitality, love, and prayer. ONLY later to use you for a future person that may be feeling scared because of their diagnosis. It can take a past mistake that has haunted you BUT now that you have walked the path, you have a voice to share your knowledge with others. From a past prison, into a bright future. It can take you from a place of feeling like you lost something but knowing God just moved it.
Change is amazing. New circumstances grow you so much as a person. You learn so much about yourself, your resilience and your passions. As I look back on the changes we’ve had over the years, God’s goodness is all over them. So prominent. He used some incredible opportunities to sharpen us, to bond us, to realize what’s truly important and what’s just unnecessary. To forge long-lasting, true, friendships over many miles and many countries. To drop off the unneeded baggage. I know God often uses a change in ways that we don’t always feel good about; losses, finances, marriages, sickness...Do you use these as opportunities to turn to Him? Sometimes we are thrust into a position that ALL we can do is rely on Him, which IS exactly where we should be. So if there is change, or tension, be expectant for transformation. Feeling mournful over a situation, believe the miracle. Fear or failure, choose faith.
I pray that we always allow room in ourselves for the new.
VB1829001_l

 

Just a Few Simple Things

IMG_4951

We are apart for our first Valentine’s in twenty-six years. We’ve never been much to celebrate the day because we feel that an everyday love is better than one day of Hallmark devotion. Still,, we are apart….

I DID notice when I unpacked a few weeks ago that a little, secret card slipped out from between my shirts. It’s just like you to sneak that into my bag when I wasn’t looking. It made me smile BIG. IMG_4959

Of course, I am thinking about you today. So I thought I’d be sappy and syrupy and sentimental.

Sometimes it’s nice to show you the funny, quirky ways you have made our lives into this extraordinary love story. 

 

*The way we can sit in a restaurant talking for hours like we’ve just met. 

*Encouraging and celebrating the wild, independent, adventurous young woman in me. 

*How we showed our kids what true love is. 

*Our endless supply of inside jokes.

*The way you sit and really listen with incredible, curiosity when you ask about my day. 

*That one night at that one BBQ when our knees touched and we felt enough electricity to light California. 

*The way your muscles flex when you wrap your arms around our grown kids. 

*The way we can have nothing and everything and it’s never mattered. 

*The way you hold my hand when I need a good cry.

*Our first kiss as young adults. 

*The Japanese love notes you mailed me before we had email. 

*Your bold, expectant prayers.

*When you laugh so hard and I see your retainer and it reminds me of being kids together. 

*Your never-ending sense of adventure. 

*You are truly the biggest romantic I know.

*Our nightly foot rubs before bed. 

*The deep, profound love you have for our children. 

*That first cup of coffee that you bring me and we share in bed together every morning. 

*The tiny specks of silver in your hair. 

*How the simplest things in life matter the most to you. 

*Your passionate, on fire, love for God. 

*Music. 

*The way you find the best Speakeasies.

*Our ease of traveling the world together. 

*The way you make everyone feel at such ease around you. 

*How you always share your last bite with me. 

*Your complete adoration of our kids. 

*That you always have been and always are my biggest cheerleader, supporter and advocate for any and all shenanigans I cook up. 

*The way you have animated my feet with voices. 

*The way you love to hide scary masks in our house to frighten the living daylights out of me and then run to hug me when you know I’m terrified.

*That one night grocery shopping that we can always laugh so hard about. 

*The way our feet find one another under the covers in the middle of the night.  

*Your sweet lips. 

*When you laugh so authenticity and slap MY knee over it. 

*The sweetness when you kiss my forehead every day. 

*Your incredible work ethic. 

*Your remarkable generosity and willingness to help people. 

*Your skin. 

*Your sincere smile. 

*The way you take me by the hand and parade me into a room. 

*The way you get excited about our date nights after all these years. 

*Our cooking show date nights. 

*The love we both share for hitting up hot new restaurants.

*The way you love our fur-kid. 

*When you leave our home and come back to pick me up for a date. 

*Our 3am Netflix binges.

*How you have a way of making me feel like I’m the only woman on the entire planet. 

*Your respect, admiration and, love for your parents. 

*The way we laugh so much and so often together.

IMG_4958

*Our kitchen dance parties. 

*Your unfailing, steadfast and intentional faith. 

*How you always empower and encourage me and make me feel like I can conquer the world. 

*Your easy going and peaceful presence. 

*Your extraordinary culinary skills. 

*How we don’t need anything at all to have a perfect evening together. 

*The way you’ve never expected me to change the person I am deep down inside.

*The way you allow me to cheat a little when we play board games but act like you don’t know. 

How even though we are apart I feel your heartbeat. 

Love~

Your PJ

The Reward of it All

What a week!  This has been one of those weeks that I want to hold onto but also let go of.  Like a tide sweeping the shore; giving and taking.

imagesOur son left and made his big move to Los Angeles, CA, which left me breathless and feeling like there was a hole in my chest.  I hold on to his excitement for this new adventure, his determination, the look in his eye knowing that something new is coming, and the elation of uncharted waters.  We are so proud and excited for him, but as parents, it’s so bittersweet.  A friend of mine shared a story of when her kids starting leaving home; a dear friend of hers asked, “in raising your kids, what was your goal?”  All of us would respond, I’m sure.. that we want to raise, independent, well-adjusted, self-sufficient, kids, with goals, and dreams and extraordinary intensions.  That is how she answered.  That’s exactly how I would answer….her friend then said, “that’s exactly what you have done.”  Such wise words, and something I have thought about for the past week.  My job <our job> is done….and this man is on his way to perusing life to the fullest.  This I’m holding on to.  And the letting go, well that’s just what this week has been in it’s entirety.  Letting go of a child, letting go of tears, letting go of feeling melancholy, letting go of some heartache…and letting God meet me right there.  I know as time passes that all of these feeling will be let go of…but maybe not.  I am quite sure as a parent, that there will always be that ache for your kids.  The hardest best thing I’ve ever done:  Parenting.

photo 2

John 15:13

photo 1

John 15:13

On an up-note…can I just raise a glass to my friends?  Texts, notes, messages, prayers, fun little “comfort packages” full of all things comfort (Meltz Extreme Grilled Cheese gift card,  dark chocolate covered fortune cookies <seriously these things ROCK> even a little hooch in the form of hot, cinnamon-y liquor) <LOL> cards, calls, emails, even a pj’s and wine slumber party/sleepover.  I have been blessed beyond measure with such incredible friends.  They are so giving and thoughtful.  Just the essence of true, unadulterated friendship.  ~Greater love has no one than this…

Unknown-1I have also started “officially” into Ironman Boulder training.  It has been nice to have a plan and a focus, especially this week.  My body has felt great, but I have been tired.  I’m sure the upswing in training matched with my emotions has gotten the better of me.  I am excited about training, and even about being back in the pool! <surprise> It’s been fun to feel my gills responding to the water and meeting friends for training again.  I know how this works and that I will be tired. I know that my body will most certainly rebel.  I know my mind will wash in all sorts of reasons why I shouldn’t do this.  I will be cranky, and starving and exhausted.  But my heart just gushes a big, YES!  Yes, you can!  And that’s exactly what keeps me going.

Seeing our son leave, with such great anticipation, reminded me of this: that although parenting, and moving, and Ironman, and <fill in the blank> are hard at times….the end result and the reward of it all is so much better.