The Last Time.

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Recently on vacation, while our family was beautifully unplugged from the world, my son asked me a question that I had never considered.

“Did you know the last time that you held me when I was little, would be the last time?”

His words blew my mind. Made me want to cry. Inspired me to try to pick him up on the stoney path where we stood so that I would without a doubt remember the last time that I held him. But he’s over 6 feet tall, and I need my back for a few more years. (It’s also awkward trying to carry an 18 year old.)

I just stood there, a lump forming in my throat.

I couldn’t remember the last time I held him because I probably didn’t realize it would be the final time I’d pull him up off the floor into my arms. He was growing and being and moving along in life. Holding just naturally transitioned to other expressions of care and affection. Time goes by so fast, kids physically grow, mom’s arms get smaller and life never stops.

We’re always moving from stage to stage.

Living from moment to moment. 

His question. It’s made me reflect. Not to be over-dramatic, but we never know when lasts are going to happen.

I thought of other moments I never knew were ending.

The last time my mom would be able to pick up the phone and call me.

The final hugs and goodbye at our front door to a precious girl we loved.

The tearful kiss left on my Gramma’s cheek in the hospital.

The abrupt end of joy found in a job I adored.

The last visit to a place that deeply mattered to me.

I didn’t know those were the lasts.

What would have I done different if I had known? What would I have said? Would I have ever been able to let go? 

Everyday I live moments that are important to me. I don’t think about moments ending, because I’m too busy living the moment. Moments make up hours, days, months and years. It’s impossible to analyze and capture each one. I can’t live every second and event of life as if it’s the last. That seems like a pretty bleak existence, but at the same time I can’t ignore the significance that each moment has.

Moments make life. 

I want to love with all I have, so that however the moments go I have peace and hope.  I want to be able to gather precious minutes into special heart-places where what I felt in those moments will last forever. The good moments, the hard moments, the joy moments, the pain moments. Woven with never-ending Grace brought together to create my Maker-written story. I don’t want to forget or lose any of those seconds, or regret what I didn’t do. I want to look back on every tick of the clock as part of beautiful stories written through faithful life-living.

We can live with purpose and intentionally to make moments count.

We can love our hearts out in both the best moments and the hardest moments. 

We can do our best to make moments significant.

We can use what happens in a moment to shape the future. 

One day I had my little boy up in my arms, and then I put him down on the floor and I never picked him up again. It’s ok that I never knew that, or realized that because I likely would have tried to hold on forever. Instead, I just kept living through his moments with him, and that has continued through his whole life.

There’s nothing we can hold onto forever.

Everyday our moments change.

Don’t wish them away.

Don’t hold onto them too tight.

Set them down when you must, and pick up the new.

First and lasts.

Beginnings and ends.

Gather them into precious places, write them down in memory ink and impress them onto your heart. Wrap your arms around them and pull them close.

All your moments matter.

Naturally Imperfect

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I have an unusual infinity right now with some produce at my local grocery store. Have you ever noticed the beautiful fruit and veggies out on display in the fresh aisle? All shiny and perfectly positioned in the right place?

You’re looking at the upper class.

The most popular. The best looking. The most talented. They are the produce celebrities. If they had instagram, they’d have the most followers.

But that’s not where my produce obsession lies. 

One day, a brilliant brilliant person realized that there was a lot of waste in the fruit and vegetable world. Obviously, not all the produce makes the cut to the top of the pile. There’s only so much room on the display. What about the sub par fruit? The potatoes with extra dimples? The apples not quite in the right shape? The pears with the knobs and bruises?

There must be a purpose for things not good enough for the spotlight. 

So this brilliant person, (Let’s call him Mr. President’s Choice) came up with a great marketing idea. Lets take all that fruit, not good enough for the top but good enough and throw it together in a bag. We can sell that! We can find a purpose for things that don’t make the cut!

Naturally Imperfect. 

That’s where my obsession lies. 

Is it weird that I understand and identity with this brand? (I actually KNOW that it’s really weird.) I seek out those naturally imperfect produce bags. I buy them up. I laugh in the face of supermarket hierarchy and I go for the underdog. I’ve told bags of naturally imperfect potatoes that I love them just the way they are. They complete me.

Imperfection is actually where it’s at.

Naturally Imperfect is my new goal.

I’ve lived a pretty steady life of striving for perfection. I’m not a classic perfectionist by any means, just come over and check out the cupboards in our house. Yet, there’s a level that I had been striving for. Goals I had been trying to meet. The top of the pile that I was trying to climb. Then, some pretty big rejections came. In different forms, in various life circumstances. Rejection that cut deeper than anyone could understand.

All of a sudden my perfectly arranged pile starts to collapse. Something’s been pulled out and things start falling all around.

Rolling. Rolling. Rolling.

Alone from the pile, you slowly spin off into the corner.

Who wants things that are bruised and broken?

Is what you think in the dark corner. Then, you remember.

He does.

Strong when I am weak. Picks me up when I fall down. Doesn’t call me to perfection, but loves me as I am. Heaping grace upon grace, breathing life into broken down places.

When the sting comes, rejection slaps and the tears fall there are arms that are wide open. A voice that whispers, I love you as you are.” A purpose that is greater than perfection and position.

The top of the pile doesn’t matter.

Broken, battered and bruised.

There’s still a place for you.

Keep going. 

Don’t give up. 

So I choose to be.

Awkwardly misshaped. Extra lumps. Weirdly formed. Rolling away from the pile.

Happy where I am.

Naturally Imperfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you want to be great?

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There was an informal question being posed at work a couple weeks ago.

“Why do you think we desire to be great?”

I had to pause a moment. I thought maybe it was a trick question. Perhaps I’ll sound arrogant if I admit that I want to be great. Maybe I should say that I don’t care about being great, but that I just want to be a good person. I mean, I’ve just been getting to know these people, I don’t want them to think I’m a conceited jerk.

But then I thought, I do want to be great!

Don’t we all?

Greatness is something that can get mixed up with fame, tangled with recognition and associated with pride. But really, at the core of all of us, isn’t there a desire to be great at what we do? Who we are? What we share with those around us?

I want to be great because I care about the things that have been placed in my hands and my heart.

I want to be a great mom because I love my children.

I want to be a great wife because I care about my marriage.

I want to be a great daughter, sister, aunt because I value family.

I want to be a great friend because I’ve been given relationships that are important to me.

I want to be a great employee because I’m passionate about my work.

I want to be a great leader because I care about the things that have been entrusted to me.

I want to be a great writer because I want to grow in my purpose.

All of these things flowing from what has been given to me from my Maker.

Why wouldn’t I desire to be great, when I’m following the greatest?

Why would I want to waste away and settle for less than that potential?

The opposite of great, is terrible.

That’s definitely not part of my future plans. 

Great can sometimes seem like a hollow word. We use it for shoes, movies, a good cup of coffee, paint on a wall, an exciting new restaurant or a book we read on vacation. 

We use it as a descriptor, not as a goal. 

At the core of greatness, is the effort it takes to get there.

Great is defined as having ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average. There’s nothing wrong with normal or average. But we don’t have to stop there. We can work hard to make the things we care about mean more.

I’m always aiming for great, and whatever comes after that. 

True greatness, that flows from the right places can be measured by the effects and the impact that it has on those around us. It has the potential to move from a word to an action. 

Greatness can be cultivated from within but how it flows is what matters. 

If we care about greatness for ourselves, we’ve missed the point.

Care about being great because what you do and what you care about matters.

It’s ok to want to be great. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear younger me,

IMG_3987Dear younger me,

A few words of wisdom from the future. 

If there is anything keeping you up at night, go and deal with it right away. What robs you of sleep can consume your waking hours. Running away from difficult conversations and possible confrontation seems like the easier path, but it really leads to a more difficult journey. 

Don’t wish away any moments or seasons. Even if they feel hard and you don’t understand their purpose. Everything that happens in life is part of your story, and there is hope even in the middle of the deepest pain and greatest challenges. You might have to look harder to find it, but that makes it even more precious. 

Love your family even when it gets messy. Family is where you’ve come from, and the legacy of what you leave behind. It’s never perfect, it’s usually complicated and it takes work. Love through all the chaos, show forgiveness and extend grace. 

Learn that your value is not based on the reflection you see in the mirror, the size of your clothes or how you compare with others around you. Embrace who you are, and the unique gifts that only you have. Don’t let your self-perception rob your potential. 

Don’t give into the denim overalls trend. Comfy as they may be. 

Love people around you even if it feels inconvenient. Be extravagantly generous. Make it your goal to be known for your love. If you feel prompted to do something for someone, don’t hesitate. Surprise people with love when they least expect it. That’s beautiful joy. 

The dream that’s deep down in your heart? IT’S POSSIBLE. Take the lid off any limitations you or others have placed on your life and keep working hard. When you want to give up and you think your plans are ridiculous, remind yourself that you are no quitter and that you can do ALL things. And again, work hard. 

Learn to laugh when you have completely and awkwardly embarrassed yourself. This will happen a lot in your future so you might as well embrace it. 

Make time for yourself. Go sit on the beach. Drink all the coffee. Date your husband. Adventure with your kids. Watch the sunsets. Spend time with your friends. You matter, so treat yourself that way. 

Don’t worry about what other people think about you. You can waste a lot of time thinking what you think other people think, who likely aren’t even thinking about you at all.  Focus your thoughts on what is above. 

Finally, be kind.

Say thank you.

Spend time with your Maker.

Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

I wish I could have told you all this in the past, but it’s never too late for the future. 

With much love,

Your older self. 

The Biggest Misfit

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This place was my favourite place. The old house that told many stories through all its creaks, secret doors and peeling layers of wallpaper.

A little bit scary, but mostly awesome.

I’m affected by the visual and I like to imagine.

This was a great house for me.

My favourite spot was the treehouse. I’d always wanted a secret lair surrounded by branches. I’d try to keep my brothers out, and I’d retreat with my stack of books and get lost in other worlds. These were the years of Harriet the Spy, Famous Five, Encyclopedia Brown and the rest of my favourite childhood reading adventures. 

My memories of home in that little town are so powerful and strong, it was my safe place and sanctuary. I still dream about that house. Yet that season was also a deep time of rejection. It’s not easy to start over, it’s hard to be new and for my young heart it was a painful place when I had to go outside the brick walls and leave my beloved treehouse behind. 

I still remember the dagger-like words, what I was wearing and places I stood. Hate that was thrown. 

So I created a mental escape. Every night in bed, I’d imagine this machine. It was like a slide. I’d start at the top as myself, then when I came out on the bottom I was whoever I wanted to be.

I’d imagine myself beautiful.

I’d imagine myself popular.

I’d imagine myself loved by everyone. 

I’d imagine myself not as myself.

Those daydreams helped me cope. 

Life went on. We moved again. I grew up. I worked years on overcoming hurts from the past, knowing there is healing for deep wounds. Yet, somedays the past pops back in for a visit and tries to take over the future. 

I’m back on that playground, the biggest misfit the world has ever seen.

Where is my slide? 

Do you ever find that inadequacy can creep in slowly? Envy sneaks in and tries to rear it’s ugly face? Hurt slaps you in the face when you least expect it? If you’re not careful soon you’ve gone down a rabbit trail of perfectly filtered Instagram life that is unattainable. Or, you look around in social settings with the inner observation that the whole world is so much better than you. You put on past pain like a pair of glasses that affects the lens  through which you see. 

You have missed out. Your endeavours have been a joke. You don’t belong. Nothing good ever happens. Why do I even try? 

This is the lie of our culture.

That we are not enough.

As a result we waste time and energy on thoughts and feeling that rob us of joy and cause us to miss our own significant moments. We let our past experiences affect our future destinations. 

Don’t get stuck in that place. 

I’ve have a little secret, one that I’ve trained myself to do over the last couple years.  I don’t do it naturally, I do it intentionally. It takes effort and commitment, but I have learned I can control the way I think. When I feel that sting or pang I can change the course of my thoughts, I can adjust my focus. 

I look doubt and rejection in the eye. I know who I am 

Give inadequacy a swift kick. I can do all things

Stomp my foot hard. I won’t get stuck here

I am exactly who I’m meant to be.

Fearfully and wonderfully made.

Living life where I’m called.

With purpose set out before me.

Trusting the One who gives me all things. 

Pack the slide away and don’t hide in the treehouse. Instead, be all that you’ve been created to be. Learn to celebrate others in their journey, while at the same time embracing the places and spaces where you are.

There’s room for all.

We are all enough. 

 

 

  

Time Travelling Life.

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There’s a candle on our kitchen table. It’s supposed to hold a treasure inside so we burn and burn it every night and we look and look for the gift. At first we just enjoyed the candle but then things started to change. I’ve noticed that we don’t care about the flame anymore that burns so steady and bright. We used to love the simple beauty of the light, but now it’s just a means to get to the prize.

Missing the beauty of the light as we impatiently wait.

Dismissing the flame that’s required.

Willing it to burn out so we can get the treasure inside. 

The other night things got taken to a whole new level. Impatience won. Knives were inserted into the wax, digging around – trying to get that prize. No one willing to wait for the flames to burn anymore. 

As I watched, a whisper came to my mind. 

Remember what was first ignited in your life.

Don’t burn so fast to the next thing that you miss the beauty of the light.

We are taught to pursue, to strive, to go after big. None of those things are wrong but often in the pursuit of our future dreams we forget about our past influences.

Where we started. What we were passionate about. What inspired and shaped us.

We burn through life as quick as we can.

Often we leave things behind that we need for the road ahead.

In what would seem to be a time-travelling season of life, I find myself back in a place where I once was. It’s my past, but also my present. It’s completely different yet totally the same all rolled into one. As I look out the windows, open familiar doors, stand in places flooded with memories and drive down roads that lead to places etched in my mind – there’s a beautiful peace that floods over me. 

This is a gift. 

This is not going back.

It’s part of going forward.

There are things here that I need.

Beautiful reminders. 

So I embrace it all, and it’s like a millions gifts to my heart and while my dreams going ahead are still bigger than life, they are more sweet and precious because they are being mixed together perfectly with the deep places of the past. Where my heart first began to burn, where light started to shine bright. There’s new that comes from the old. 

All mixed together, beautifully combined. 

Embrace the beauty of the light as it burns.

Shine as you go after your treasures.

Value and protect the places of your heart where your dreams and hopes are buried deep and let them come alive again. 

The past is needed for the present.

It’s all part of the future. 

Necessary for the journey. 

 

I remember the days from long ago…