New Year, New Perspective

For ten years I’ve blamed Bible College for my lost passion when it comes to reading the Bible.

If you’ve ever been to Bible College, maybe you can relate. In those days I read with a purpose: I read to prove something, for debates, to win arguments. I searched for obscure Scripture references to support an opinion I had already formed.

I knew the Bible. Sword drills were my jam. I had memorized large chunks of Scripture that I could recite when I wanted to impress someone with my vast theological knowledge.

When I finished Bible College I worked with youth. I had good marks so I thought I was ready to handle anything they threw at me.   I searched the Bible for answers to their questions: “What makes Christianity better than other religions?” “Why is God the only way?” “Is homosexuality a sin?” “Why did my mom die?” I read the Bible for them, to answer their questions and help with their struggles – but not my own.

I knew the Bible, but my spirit was parched.

Then I became a mother and the kids became my excuse. With work, diaper changes, dayhome drop-offs and pick-ups and scrambling to keep the household running, Sure, I could quote Scripture to my children when I needed to, but I didn’t have time to read the Bible for anything more than the occasional Bible story when I remembered to do family devotions.

It wasn’t until my six-year-old innocently asked me one night before bed, “Mommy, why do we read the Bible?” that I realized that I was completely missing the point. I don’t have a specific purpose in mind when I spend time with my son, I do it because I love him. I love being with him, talking to him, learning about him and from him. He’s not an obligation, he’s not something to check off a list every day.

If something is really important, we don’t find the time, we make the time.

It wasn’t Bible College’s fault, it was mine.

I wasn’t reading. I wasn’t searching, I wasn’t showing up each day with the expectation that God would reveal Himself, His truth, to me – not for grades, or to win an argument, or to have something to share when it was my turn to lead a group devotion, but because He loves me.

I’ve done Bible reading plans in the past – chronological, historical, from beginning to end. This year I’m reading just to read, with no real plan and no goal in mind other than to get to know Jesus better. Not as an acquaintance, but as a Father and a creator and a friend. My perspective on reading the Bible has changed from being something to cross off my to-do list each day to something I look forward to each and every morning when I wake up.

Lord, I don't want to go through the motions anymore.  The Bible says that You make all things new - so please, make my heart new.  Make my mind new.  Make my life new!  Proverbs 8:17 says "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."  I'm seeking, Lord.  I want to desire You more than anything else.  Renew  my passion for You and for Your Word!

Amy

"Do you see her?  That girl, the one with the long blonde hair in a ponytail?  That's who I am.  That's what I look like."  I was playing pretend with my sister, and of course I wanted to look different.  Short and thin with mousey brown hair and enormous pink glasses wasn't who I wanted to be - in real life, or pretend.  Most days I wanted to be tall, thin, and blonde, with my hair pulled back into a bouncy ponytail or a long braid.  Sometimes I would even go the extra mile and put a pair of pantyhose on my head to get the desired effect of long hair!

For whatever reason, I thought that if I looked different, I was different.  As silly as it sounds, pantyhose on my head made me stand taller, be more bold, and act more confident.  When the game ended I went back to being regular old Holly, shy and quiet, afraid of making mistakes.

Not a lot has changed since those days.

Some days I'm happy with who I am:  A wife and mother, writer and business owner.  I have a loving husband and two amazing children. I'm happy with who I am and who where I am.

But then I see Amy, and nothing in my world seems good enough.

I'm not good enough.

* * *

See, Amy is everything I'm not.

She has three children under the age of five, but somehow she never looks less than amazing.  Her Pinterest boards are full of hairstyles and outfit combinations she clearly has the time to try.  Her girls are always dressed beautifully – and fashionably! - with their soft, untangled curls pulled back into perfect, complicated braids.  Her son doesn’t have any unruly cowlicks or dirt under his fingernails. Her children are always spotless and unwrinkled, and they are unfailingly polite.

Amy is never harried, never frantic, and never out of breath.

She's a stay at home mom just like me, but she runs a direct from home sales business that makes enough money for her and her husband to escape on tropical vacations a couple of times each year.

And she homeschools.

* * *

On the outside, Amy looks like she has it all, and she has it all together - but does she really?

Do any of us?  

Or are we all just wearing pantyhose on our heads, trying to be something we're not?

* * *

Sometimes I think that if I could be anyone in the entire world, I would be Amy.

But God didn't make me Amy, he made me me.

Sometimes I wonder why he made me the way he did. Why do I have to be so short? Why doesn’t my hair cooperate when I try anything other than a simple ponytail? Why can’t I be more stylish? More outgoing? More easygoing? More confident?

Why can’t I be anybody but me? 

Then I remember that God made “all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13, NLT) He made me short and thin, he made my mousey brown hair, he made the eyes that require enormous glasses. He created me, he knows me – and all of my insecurities.

I am a daughter of the King, and that is enough.

I am enough.

And so are you.

When Dreams Change

“Well?” he said, waiting for an answer. “What are you going to do?”

We were sitting in his office – him, leaning back in his chair with his feet on his desk, me, in the swivel chair across from him with my feet tucked beneath me, spinning myself around and around and around as I tried to make a decision.

I had been planning the cross-country move for more than a decade. I attended university after high school like my parents wanted, even earning a “sensible degree” in economics – but my passion had always been horses. The deal was that if I graduated from university, my parents would support me in whatever I chose to do next, even if that meant moving 3000 miles away to study horses at the best school of its kind in the country.

Hours earlier I had received a letter from that school informing me that I had been wait listed. They allowed ten students into the English Horsemanship program and I was unlucky number eleven. I had flown across the country a month before to tour the school and perform a riding test. I made one mistake – picking up the wrong canter lead and not correcting it quickly enough – and I was done. “You’re welcome to try again next year!” the letter said.

What was I going to do? 

I shared the answer (and the rest of this post!)  at Anchored Voices earlier this month.  I hope you'll join me there!

Life and Love

Last month my husband was part of a stealth operation. One of his friends wanted to propose to his longtime girlfriend and asked Nathan to provide the music. He chose a specific song – “Wanted”, by country singer Hunter Hayes. Nathan smirked the first time he heard it. “Seriously? Barf!” were his exact words.

We hung out the night before the proposal, three married couples and the dating one. All of the married couples split up on the couches, leaving one single beanbag chair for the lovebirds. “You guys sit there,” we joked. “You still like each other!”

The next afternoon Nathan covered himself in bug spray and hid in the bushes next to a walking trail. As the couple approached, he started to sing: “You know I’d fall apart without you. I don’t know how you do what you do. ‘Cause everything that don’t make sense about me makes sense when I’m with you …”

She said yes.

* * *

Nathan and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary last week. The proposal reminded me of us at the beginning of our relationship. We were constantly touching, arms around each other, holding hands. I remember one camping trip where friends bet us we couldn’t complete a mountain hike holding hands – and we won!

Life looks different now. After being pulled this way and that by kids all day, with a clingy toddler in my arms, Nathan’s lucky if he gets any greeting when he gets home from work, never mind a hug or a kiss.

Love looks different now too. We don’t have the time or the energy or the money to go on extravagant (or frequent!) dates, so we collapse on the couch after the kids are in bed and my work is done for the day. We hold hands in the grocery store parking lot instead of on mountain trails. We may not snuggle at friends’ houses, but we have more than eight years’ worth of inside jokes and communicate better with each other than with anyone else. Though we still haven’t managed to successfully escape a Breakout room …

Most days aren’t filled with the freshness and passion that mark a new relationship. We’re more comfortable. We’re established in who we are as a couple. We celebrated our first anniversary with a romantic weekend getaway; we celebrated our eighth anniversary with burgers and an hour and a half of uninterrupted Pokemon hunting.

Sometimes, I will admit, I miss the newness. I miss the romance of it all. My husband is certainly more practical than he is romantic – he’s the man who catches our kids’ puke in his hands on airplanes, not the one who painstakingly crafts 1000 origami paper cranes and gifts me his wish.

But I love him more because of the life we’ve created together. He’s the one who proposed on bended knee on a dock while wearing rollerblades, and he’s the one who stops at the store on his way home from work almost every single day because I’m missing one ingredient for the dinner I’ve already started to make.

Our marriage isn’t glamorous. Romantic getaways are few and far between at this stage of life. Instead we sway together, dancing in the kitchen while the sink fills with bubbles and our children try to sandwich themselves between us.

And I wouldn’t give up these everyday moments for all the romance in the world.

Changing Direction

Three months ago I made a commitment to write consistently.

Then I learned to crochet.

It's a fantastic hobby, and I can argue that it's useful.  I can make things!  I can sell things!  I can be productive!

But then I remember that God doesn't ask for productivity.  He asks for obedience.

* * * 

In case you hadn't noticed, I haven't been blogging lately.

It's not because I haven't had things to write about, it's because I've been struggling with how to write about things.

It's my latest avoidance tactic, I suppose.

See, I've always been a bit of a perfectionist.  When I do something, I like to do it well - and naturally, that extends to blogging.  I haven't been working since last fall so I've had lots of time to read and research, trying to learn what makes a blog "successful".

There are lots of opinions out there, but most of what I've read points to four key ingredients:

  1. Find your voice.
  2. Find your niche.
  3. Write for your audience.
  4. Be consistent.

It seems simple enough.

But then I started to wonder how to measure "success".   Was I successful when I doubled my traffic?  Tripled it?  When my twitter or instagram followers reached a specific number?  When I started making money from my blog?

The more articles I read, the more overwhelmed I became.  There are so many rules!  It was enough to turn me off blogging for awhile.

Truth be told, it doesn't take much to turn me off writing for awhile ...

We're busy with renovating.

I'm working again.

I'm tired.

My brain is fried.

I'm out of ideas.

I don't know where to begin ...

* * * 

I've been reading the story of Moses in Exodus lately.

"Master, please, I don't talk well.  I've never been good with words, neither before nor after You spoke to me ..."

God's response?  "Who do you think made the human mouth?  And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind?  Isn't it I, God?  So get going.  I'll be right there with you - with your mouth!  I'll be right there to teach you what to say."  (Exodus 4:10-12, MSG).

Moses hesitated, begging God to send someone else.

He made excuses, just like I do.

I need to be brave.

* * * 

  1. I'm overwhelmed by the rules of "proper blogging" - so I'm just going to break them.  I've spent so much time reading other blogs, trying to uncover their secrets to success, that I lost my voice.  Hence the four month hiatus.  How can I find my voice when my head is full of everybody else's?
  2. I've never been able to pinpoint a real "niche" - and I think that's okay.  I don't need a "niche", I need direction - and I have that now.  Whether or not I have courage is a post for another day!
  3. I've never had a huge audience - and I'm okay with that.  Numbers don't matter.  Jesus only had twelve followers, after all!
  4. I struggle with consistency.  I'm not in a season of life where I can guarantee a new post at a certain time on a specific day of the week - but I'm going to try to drop into this space more regularly!  If I disappear again, feel free to e-mail me.  I need the accountability!

* * * 

As for where to begin -

"Wherever you are is a good and important place.  Start there."  (Gary Morland)

So I will.

Thanks for sticking with me while my blog changes direction!

Enough

Ever since I stopped working I've struggled with being enough.

I feel like such a hypocrite writing that, since it wasn't that long ago that I shared this post about my decision to be a stay at home mom - but I want to be honest in this space, so there it is.

I have spent weeks trying to figure out how to make more, do more, and be more.

I explored work at home opportunities.  I researched ways to monetize a blog (ugh!).  I even debated whether or not to become some sort of direct sales consultant (Jamberry, perhaps?)

Then I decided that maybe I would feel better if I did more, so I cleaned our entire house from top to bottom, purging and reorganizing, doing minor repairs, washing walls and windows.

That didn't help (well - maybe it did a little.  I do love a clean house!) so I volunteered to teach Topher's Sunday school class.  I'm still debating whether or not to coach his soccer team.

I've been writing (and writing and writing and writing!) - building my portfolio and enjoying every second of it -

But nothing I do feels like enough, and I have no idea why I constantly feel like I should be doing something more.

Sometimes I forget how valuable it is that I'm able to be at home for my family right now.

I forget how important it is that I'm available to drive Topher to school - a good school, in a different neighbourhood.  I'm free to volunteer in his class or on field trips if that's what I want to do.

I forget how important it is that I spend my mornings with Ellie.  Of course most of that time is spent driving her Paw Patrol pups from one room to another, or zipping them down the waterside into her Barbie pool - but we have lots of fun no matter what we're doing!

I forget how important it is that I'm able to cook for my family every single day - and that we're able to sit down at the table and eat as a family, without me skipping out early to start work in my corner-of-the-kitchen office.

I forget how important it is that I can coach Topher's soccer team, if I want to.  Last year I had to book those days off - and almost missed one game because it got switched to a different day.

And I forget how important it is that I read the kids their bedtime stories and tuck them in at the end of the day, after two years of relinquishing the task to my husband.

Why do I need to remind myself what a privilege this is?

This is exactly where I want to be ...

And being here is okay.