It summer, and it’s turned into a very full summer very quickly.
Free I be.
Free I give.
Unencumbered beauty gazing
into the pinked sky.
My shoulders give way
to the beauty of the sunset.
Releasing hot air
as my breath enters steady.
A cool sense of freedom
draws me close.
I am light.
He is the light though
the darkness dwells over the land.
The rhythm of the day balances
and I rest.
I said words I knew I didn’t want to say.
Hurtful words. Once again doing the same thing I swore I wouldn’t.
I just wanted to be mad. And I knew that. But I carried on.
The yelling and arguing. For no purpose other than the evil that I will always carry in my heart.
The anger subsided, normalcy crept back in. Dinner was eaten. Kisses exchanged.
I walked down the hill, the wet grass filling my holey boots with water.
I breathed in the pear blossoms, observed the may apples popping up. But kept on walking, right down over the steep cliff, past the fallen hollow tree.
I sat on my log and listened to the creek go by. Opened up Brad’s bible and read a couple of psalms. Being down there seems to be the only way I can connect to God these days, where the only distraction is nature.
I was reading Psalm 116 and the wind picked up The trees creak and I look up. They’re all bending and moving and I start to feel a surge of panic rise up through me. That hollow tree fell only a couple of weeks ago at night during a storm.
What if another falls? There’s nothing to do but watch, mesmerized by the beauty and rawness that it invokes.
And I hear, “they sway but they won’t snap.”
And I knew it was for me.
I will sway, I will always and often sway from where I want to be. But I won’t snap, can’t snap, because I have the Spirit of the Lord in my heart.
Learn. Be still. Be at peace.
“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 7: 21-25
It’s ok to not always enjoy parenthood.
I feel like I see so many blogs today about appreciating all the parts of parenthood, even the difficult ones because soon they will be gone and our kids will be grown.
This is certainly true but I find it often adds guilt to my life.
Yes, it goes too fast. Yes, I should enjoy every minute.
Sometimes it goes painfully slow. Sometimes I really dislike the minutes.
Some days I wake up exhausted because a baby used me as a human pacifier all night and I find two rambunctious boys ready to start their day.
I rarely take a shower without one, sometimes two boys in the bathroom waiting for me to get out.
I can’t even read a psalm without having to answer a million questions.
The middle boy shouts “mom, mom, mom….” until I answer. Then he says “nothing!”. Over and over again.
I know that I will miss this someday. I will think, “wow, I should have appreciated those times more”.
But right now I’m telling myself that it’s ok not to always appreciate the moments. That in these moments I’m learning how to be a better parent and liver of life.
It’s ok to be exhausted and grumpy, because often that spurs us on to something better. It teaches us what we need in those hard moments and how to allow ourselves that. (For me right now it’s trying to get away to write this….even though there is a two year old asking me to help him put his pants on).
My eyes are half open today, my kids are loud and annoying, I feel grumpy about life.
And that’s ok.
The past couple of years at the beginning of the new year I’ve had a word to focus on for that upcoming year. 2013 was contentment and for 2014 I picked peace. When I say I picked it, I really mean it picked me. But that’s another story.
This year we got pregnant for the third time. We enjoyed a super quiet spring and summer in our neighborhood. This is a drastic improvement over years past…no burning houses, no murders or middle of the night screaming matches within a 200 yard radius of our house.
We felt at ease in our neighborhood and happy to be here. We started our community garden and it actually grew a little.
When we started trying to have this third child I felt like the name should mean peace. In my head I thought it would be a girl and we would name her Olive (ya know, olive branch, a peace symbol).
Well we had a boy and it was evident as he was born that he should be Solomon. His name is derived from “Shalom” or simply “peace”.
The months leading up to his birth didn’t feel very peaceful in our household. We felt stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. I remember several times just saying to each other it will all get better once the baby comes.
The thing is, Solomon did bring peace with him. Certainly we all still have our moments but this transition has truly been easier than expected. His brothers adore him, he adores us and we have really been coming into our own as a family. We’re deciding once again how we want to live our lives, this time considering that we are a family of five. It’s been a good time to reevaluate our priorities and make sure how we are currently living matches them.
I started thinking about 2015’s word a couple of weeks ago and just felt like it should be “enjoy”. To enjoy the contentment and peace I’ve learned. To enjoy God’s good earth. To enjoy this wonderful life I’ve been given. To just be “in joy”. I want to be joyful and happy and optimistic and unfortunately that is often not the case with me.
Enjoy comes from the French word “enjoier” which means to give joy. Isn’t that cool, if we enjoy life we actually give joy to others. Everyone wins!
“Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
– Walt Whitman
We’re more than halfway through the year, so how is my “be at ease in 2013” goal working out for me?
Well, in a lot of ways, I’ve reduced and simplified my life and made changes that will reduce stress.
But, I’m not sure if that has helped my contentment.
I’ve been anxious and pent up recently some days seem like a struggle even though they shouldn’t. There are so many “what if’s” and “what’s next” right now that life has really been weighing me down.
With some self reflection I’m beginning to realize that no matter what our future holds, if I can’t be content, happy and joyous right here, right now, I will never he happy and content. No place, job or garden will change my feeling of discontent.
So right now, I’m praying and working on being happy. Being the true me I can be, the woman full of peace that I think is trying to get out.
I’ve come quite far in the past 7 months. We’ve eliminated junk and excess activities in my life and we’re praying about a new path that God may be leading us in. If I can just focus in on living a joy filled life and accepting God’s grace every moment of every day I might just find that secret to being content that Paul is talking about.
Is it wrong to do what we want?
By this I don’t mean acting on impulses such as overeating, overdrinking and reacting in anger.
I think I mean, is it OK to take what we believe are be good things, things that line up with how we want to live our lives and just do it?
I’m never sure if we have to wait for God to give us a very clear, “you are to do this” answer in a loud booming voice or if we can take our talents and our desires and set out on a new course without being sure if it’s “correct”.
Our family is in a period of change and transition right now, which is both exciting and frustrating. We don’t know where our lives are leading us, although we do have ideas of things that we would like to do. We are beginning to see how we would like to bring our kids up and how we can use our talents to serve and give.
Can we just do these things? Can we set out on a path unknown and ask God for his blessing? Or is that completely ridiculous because if it’s not the “right” path then we are pretty much doomed to failure?
I feel like this rambling makes no sense, but I’m trying my best to explain how these thoughts have been running through my head lately.
I think that God’s desires and our desires line up when we’re in tune with his Spirit, but it’s still so hard to know the difference between our ideas and God’s ideas.
Part of living a Christ-like life is sacrificing, however are we really sacrificing if the next course of our life is something that we strongly desire? Perhaps sacrificial living is beyond what we want and what we need but a mindset that we will find joy in any and every situation.
I was watching an interview that Charlie Rose did with Bono over the weekend and one sentence struck me as important. Bono said that “Joy is an act of defiance”.
I’ve never thought of joy that way before, as a way to be defiant against the clutches of evil, but now I am considering the role that joy has in my own life.
Sometimes I think that certain situations would allow me to be more joyful than I currently am. But then I read things like Paul’s letter to the Phillipians and realize that it is key to be able to be happy and content regardless of what is around us. (“I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Philippians 4:11-13).
I’m not sure that necessarily means we need to always live in situations that push us to our limits. If Ecclesiastes has taught me anything, it’s that life is full of seasons. Some are good, some are bad, some are hard and some are easy.
I should stop this rambling before things get any more confusing. But please, if anyone has thoughts on this matter I would love to hear them.
* Note: I was a bit concerned about posting this because I don’t want to come off arrogant or ungrateful for what I have. It is simply documentation of how God is changing our lives and my desire to contribute. I do not know what is best for anyone but myself. And even then only God knows my path in life.
There are times when I’m tired of being a photographer, tired of running a business and responding to emails and worrying about how many weddings to book for the upcoming year. I feel guilty about that.
Just a few years ago I was practically begging for more clients. More clients to expand my portfolio and more clients to supplement our income.
I’m at the point where I no longer need to advertise but this business seems to be weighing me down.
I know that God has blessed me with the talent and drive to take photographs. I don’t want to waste that.
God has also blessed me with two wonderful children who need raised. I definitely don’t want to miss that opportunity.
I keep thinking that juggling motherhood and a business is too difficult. That something has to give and one day I’m a terrible business owner and the next a terrible mother.
People do this all the time, right? They work and raise kids and live good lives. But I’m beginning to think I need to stop comparing myself to others.
This winter the rhythm of life has been good. Really good.
I’m taking the time to make things again. To bake bread. To paint. To simply lay on the couch with my babies.
It feels nice. It feels right.
I’m worried that once my busy season starts to pick up again (in oh, about a week or so) that this relaxed and simple pace of life will vanish. That I will resort to eating convenience foods and spending naptimes editing just trying to “make it through”.
Is is worth it?
I don’t know. I’m beginning to think it’s not.
I want my place to be home. I want my job to be providing for my family. I want to waste less and spend less and produce more. That in itself is a big job.
What if…what if I could save us nearly as much as I earn a year?
Producing goods is rewarding and fulfilling. Producing money so we can consume more becomes stressful.
We’re turning our front yard into a garden. I vow to learn how to can our extras. I made a couple gallons of liquid soap from a bar that cost a dollar or two. Once our shampoo runs out I am going to try the baking soda and vinegar no ‘poo method.
I’m beginning to see just how much these small changes add up.
“ But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11
The enjoyment and satisfaction that comes from making my own things and earning my keep is truly unbeatable. Taking flour, yeast and water and turning it into a warm, crusty loaf of bread has become such a pleasure.
The Joy Project is giving me an opportunity to do photography the way I love it (photojournalism) and at the same time promote joy and kindness in the world. Win, win?
It’s so hard to go against the grain of our culture. To tell myself that it’s OK to be a homemaker. To put my business on hold for a bit in order to garden, bake and teach.
I know that life is not always enjoyable. There will always be things that we have to do that we do not want to do. But I do know that life is full of seasons and perhaps this is my season to slow down, raise children and consume less.