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…

In the middle of why

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There’s a sweet girl. She reached out in her last days. Memories of roots that ran deep, times when her heart was full and she believed. When the end was near, she called out again. 

She asked, “Why?” 

I said I didn’t know.

I don’t understand these things.

She said, “I’m scared.”

I held her hand. In the face of pain and hard questions sometimes words seem hollow. In my shaky voice, I shared where my hope comes from. My faith that has seen me through many storms. The unconditional love that has rescued me. I sat beside her and looked at the childhood posters on her wall of kitty cats, puppies and sparkly stars and my eyes filled with tears as I thought about full circles, deep pain, planted seeds and love in broken up places. 

That was all.

A few days later she was at peace.

Heart settled.

Her pain gone.

And I’m full of thanks that I got to sit beside her. 

Grateful that I entered her life again, even just for a short time.

That was perfect grace. 

Since then, the question rings in my mind. 

“Why?”

It’s the question asked in the middle of it all. When pain is right smack in the face, and things are closing in. It’s whispered it in the dark loneliness of night when it’s all too much to bear, and fountains of tears have been shed and hearts faintly beat from dry parched places. 

We see those we love slipping away. We feel helpless and full of pain. 

We feel like life is not what we planned or hoped. Our dreams seem lost.

We’ve been hurt and rejected and kicked to the curb. We feel unwanted and unloved.

We want to stand on a mountain and scream to the world

Why?

Somedays the heart is just so full of things that hurt. 

There is no perfect life.

But in the middle of it all there is perfect peace.

Peace that runs down. Peace that overflows and mixes with grace. Peace that is tied to a hope that is our anchor.

Anchor of the soul. Strong and secure.

That anchor holds fast. The storms, the wind and the waves will come.

In the middle of the why,

we hold on tight.

He is steadfast.

He is strong. 

He is our peace.

He is our grace. 

He is. 

In that small room that represented a lifetime – there were hard questions. No real answers. 

There was also peace in the middle of flowing grace. 

In the middle 

of why.

He is there. 

He is. 

2017 – Love your Corner

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I have always found great significance in seasons. I fully embrace the one I am in, and dive into whatever is approaching. That’s why I always extra-love the start of a new year. There’s nothing more motivating to me than a clean slate ahead, a story waiting to be written. Even today, I am finishing up one of my writing goals for 2016 (I am the poster child of procrastination) before the calendar turns in a couple days. 

I have been thinking over the last couple weeks about 2017 and what goals I want to set for the days ahead. It’s a brand new season for me in many ways, and I’m so excited that I actually can’t sleep at night. However, through all my goal setting exercises and blue sky dreaming, I realized that there has been a shift in my perspective for the year ahead that’s been deeply shaped by the year that has passed.

2017.

It’s not so much about what I do.

It’s about who I want to be.

In a world full of dreams, ambitions and spotlights –  in this next season of life I care more about who I am, than what I do.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m passionate about what I do. But I think more and more that who we aspire to be on the inside, will naturally spill over into the other areas of our life.

Our excellence in what we do, will flow from who we are. 

I want to shine kindness.

I want to be investing in others.

I want to be serving.

I want to be supporting people in my life.

I want to be present in the moments that matter.

I want to be building legacy.

I want love to define all that I do.

As I reflect on the events, circumstances and tensions that have polarized and in many cases brought destruction, pain and anguish to the world around us in the past year – I often wonder what could ever bring change. What could transform our world? Even as I think about the situations in my own life, I am often at a loss at how to walk out the days ahead.

I don’t have the answers, but I have my faith that gives me hope.  I can pour out goodness, kindness and hope in my little corner of the world. It’s not always easy, to love without exception. It’s often inconvenient and messy, but so is the world we live in.

Let’s meet the mess with love. 

We all can’t influence nations and kings. We can’t make everything right for everyone around us.  But we can be pouring out in our corners. If enough corners are filled, then love starts to spread. Hope starts to rise. Change comes when we care about who we are on the inside, and we let that influence all that we do. 

Care about your corner.

Because the greatest is love.

And in the darkest days, love shines through the darkness. 

This year, I’m still going to be active in the things I’m passionate about. I’ll write and create, and dream. I’m always going to think big and pursue excellence. But I’m committed to deeply caring about who I am in the little corner of the world where I have been placed, and I’m going to love in that corner like never before. 

2017.

Not focussed on what I do.

But how I love. 

In my corner. 

 

 

 

 

 

The gifts I want for Christmas

 

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My Christmas wishes this year are pretty boring. A stock pot, and a cheese board. (Apparently my current passions in life are soup and cheese and I’m ok with that) After numerous requests from my kids for “a list” I mentally went through each room of our house, considered my closet and honestly came to the conclusion that there is nothing I really need. Of course there’s always things I like, and I might actually buy myself a real pair of warm winter boots on Boxing Day but all in all I’m very satisfied and content. 

There is more than enough.

After walking through significant seasons over the last couple months, I feel like I’ve already had Christmas. This year I’ve received all the presents I need. Deep gifts of healing, restoration, hope, precious times, overflowing blessings and moments that I can’t even put into words. I can close my eyes and replay them all, and it’s the most beautiful movie ever. 

I’ve received so much. 

And I want more of that. More significant life. Life that changes and challenges you. Life that makes you turn your insides out and decide who you want to be. Life that pushes you beyond yourself and your own desires and breathes into your heart that it’s ok to just to be you. That you are enough. That He is enough and that the gift of your life is really about how you love.

I want more of those gifts.

So I made another list for Christmas.

More…

Memories and moments

Family and traditions

Hot chocolate and cookies

Adventures and fun 

Surprises and blessings 

Sparkly snow 

Kindness and compassion 

Forgiveness and peace

Laughter and joy

Movies and popcorn

The minutes, the days and the hours go fast. Life changes and throws you things you never expected.  What’s under the tree is temporary, but the moments we create and go after live on.

A holiday birthed from an eternal gift, should celebrate what’s everlasting in our lives.

I’ll happily open gifts with my family this Christmas. I’ll sit with excitement around the tree, and be thrilled when I get my new stock pot. (I really like making soup!)  I’ll also reflect on the year behind and all the gifts my Maker has given me that could never be wrapped up. Gifts that could never be placed in a box under a sparkly tree.  

Gifts from my everlasting Saviour.

Who has poured out everlasting moments,

With His everlasting love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss your moments

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I remember when we were kids and my dad would pull out the slide projector to show us some old pictures. We thought it was so cool as he placed the slides so carefully in the round tray and then set them on the machine. We’d all sit around and he’d click through them and we’d watch the snapshots go by.

Moments from the past.

Click Click

Click Click

Looking back over the last few months, I feel like I’ve been in one of those old slide reels. I haven’t lived days as much as I’ve lived moments. The kind of moments that are seared onto my heart and have literally brought change of perspective to my life. I could easily pick out dozens that are etched into my mind.  Moments showing joy, laughter, family, pain, beauty, connections, surprises, reflections, goodbyes – and the list goes on.

Click Click

Click Click

So many moments.

We don’t always value what happens in the little moments. Yet, in the fast pace of life, moments are the key part of living. When we don’t embrace them, they slip away. When we don’t appreciate them, they pass us by. When we fail to recognize what happens in the small, we get lost in the big.

Our moments matter.

Sitting in that dark room as a kid, watching and listening to the reel click – I remember saying, “Slow down! I didn’t see that one! You’re going too fast!”

I didn’t want to miss those moments then.

I’m determined not to miss them now. 

The pursuit of big and grand can’t compare to authentic life lived in small moments. Small is really what matters, big is overrated. All the things that I thought were important that I had to go after – none of those things compare to the precious moments I’ve captured over the last months. 

The moments still to come?

Each one will be valued and the snapshot reel will grow. Pictures of life, of love. Portraits of joy and even of pain. That’s all part of living. The moments that we capture in our heart affect the choices we make as we go forward.

What we value in our moments, sets the tone for our living.

As I feel this season ending, I’m gently gathering up my precious moments and minutes. I’ve started to label them for safekeeping, listed them for future reference. I’ll slide them one by one into my picture reel, not too far away so I can pull them out when I need them again. I’m glad I was looking and listening. I’m so thankful I stopped to collect them and that they didn’t pass me by. 

Those moments will always be just a thought away. 

New ones are on the way.

Another reel ready to be filled.

Small moments combining to make purposeful living. 

Click Click

Click Click

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in the Margin

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Margin.

I remember learning to write in school and we always had to make sure we kept space at each side of the page. 

“You need a margin,” the teacher would say.

I always wondered why?  Why couldn’t I just write all the way to the end of the page? 

So I would, and I’d get reprimanded.

I liked my pages full. 

I’d get my work back and it would be all scribbled over in red pen, I couldn’t read it or understand it. It was such a mess, I’d be so frustrated. Then I got it.

Margin.

Space to revisit. Think things over and consider changes. Review. Input. Edit. Make room for improvement.  

No margin means no space.

When there’s no space, everything is a mess.

For the last month I have been in transition. It was an unexpected one, but I generally thrive in change and in this season I decided right from the beginning that I was going to make it about the things I often felt I had no margin for. I am often stuck in the place where the space is slim. Trying to do all the things I know are so important and not wanting to let anything slide. Feeling guilty almost all the time and not wanting to let people down. Often rushing through precious moments because I only have so much room on each page and the pages felt full. 

I decided to make a purposeful shift. 

Time for space. 

In my last month of margin I have lived life to the fullest. I’ve gotten up every day and walked in the morning, I’ve spontaneously painted random things in our house, I have joyfully picked up and driven my daughter to school every single day, I’ve cooked and enjoyed making dinner, I have baked countless loaves of pumpkin bread, had a clean house, I’ve met up with friends for coffee, stayed up late and watched Gilmore Girls, I’ve finished my manuscript, I’ve gone after some crazy dreams, walked in the rain, had some great ministry conversations, hung out with a cute toddler, spent time with God, went to my nephew’s hockey games, I’ve made memories with my mom, sat on a cold windy beach and listened to the waves, I had a craft night with a friend, celebrated another friend’s birthday, gone to the grocery store in leggings with holes, I’ve created fun care packages for my son at school, made 4 different kinds of soup, packed lunches for my husband, I’ve bribed my sister-in-laws with dinner to paint my house, gotten addicted to the steps counter on my iPhone, and the list goes on.

I am living the wonderful life of margin. 

My pages have never been so empty, yet so full all at the same time. 

Sometimes our pages are so crammed that we leave no room for the things in life that give us joy. Right now, I’m basically just one big page of fun and I know that it won’t last forever. I can’t live in this season indefinitely and I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I have decided that what has brought me joy in this season, I need to protect in the next one. It’s been life-giving, it’s filled me up in places that were going dry.

I didn’t choose this season, but it’s been an incredible blessing.

An unexpected gift.

There will always be things in life that demand our attention and responsibilities. In the times when your pages start to feel full, remember to make space. The things that you value, the legacy you are creating, the people that you love and the moments that matter truly happen when you leave room in your life.

You are the writer of your story, you guide the pen and you set the margin. 

Value it. Protect it.

There will always be things that you have to get written on your page.

Make sure to leave space for the things that will go on even when your chapters change.

 

 

 

 

Life in the middle.

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I have finally figured out this stage of my life.

I am in the middle.

Being in the middle is a little confusing. I now have some significant days behind me. I’m not “just starting out” anymore. In pretty much all areas of my life — as a parent, spouse, leader, professional — I have “experience.” That’s a good thing. I know I am not the person I was in my 20s. I’ve progressed and matured and learned since my 30s. I’m stronger and more confidant and much more settled in who I am at this stage of my life. I still lose my keys, get into wrong cars, trip on curbs, and have frizzy hair, but overall I’m getting along fine.

But here’s the thing . . .

The middle doesn’t mean that you are finished.
The middle is just the beginning.
The middle is where your biggest dreams can come to life.
The middle means you have great days ahead, and those days can be the best.

If I’m really honest though, I’m a little lost sometimes in this middle land. 

I have people in my life that I invest in, mentor, and try (somehow, with grace) to influence and encourage. I value those relationships. But deep down in my heart I also still long to be a recipient of investment. The middle people sometimes look like they have it all together. We don’t. We still need to do life together with people. We still need someone to believe in us, someone to cheer us on, and someone to guide us through what happens in middle land.

In my middle, I need people more than ever.

In the middle, life is full of a lot of things that I am trying to navigate. Bouncing between a teenager to a university student – and the dynamics of those stages. Trying to support and care for parents. Deciding what dreams to pursue and what direction to take. Figuring out who I am supposed to be in a season that is unpredictable and where everything presses in from all sides. Not wanting to let anyone down, trying to be everything that everyone needs. 

The middle is always changing.

Incredible highs to deep lows.

You can’t do the middle stage alone.

Maybe all middle people have awesome mentors. Maybe they all get calls from “their person” who sees that spark, who calls out the potential in them. Maybe they have those who journey with them through their seasons. Maybe all people but me have that, and I really need to join some sort of support group.

Maybe.  

I know this sounds needy. (I prefer the word “transparent”)

Just to be clear, I do have great friends and a social life. I have an incredibly supportive family. I’m not living alone in the woods. Please don’t sign me up for a find-a-companion website. However, as a person who thinks about, speaks about, and writes about mentoring and investment I’ve realized that I don’t know where I fit anymore. I know I am lacking in that area of my life at this stage of my life.

I long for a voice.
I want to be better.
I value life being done together.

Maybe you’re supposed to be self-sufficient in the middle? Maybe you are supposed to be able to figure it out? I don’t really think that is the way it should be, I believe that life is meant to be shared as family.

Let’s walk this middle stage together. 

Let’s walk all our journeys together. 

Everyone has something to offer someone else.
Every generation can speak into another.
Every person can offer something to another person.
We are never done learning and growing.

I have Netflix and Wi-Fi, an anti-social cat and lots of great people in my life.

But I’m still trying to figure life out.

In the middle.

Maybe, we can figure it out together. 

 

Originally posted at Life in the middle.

 

I don’t know how to be a brand

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I’m not really sure when the switch happened between brands being for products vs. brands representing people. But it’s here now.

Alive and well. 

People are the new products.

I love a good-branded person as much as anyone else. There are hordes of people I have never met that I know all about and what they represent. Many of them have added value to my life. I can identify of all them by their brand.

The person brand.

It’s brilliant marketing. I have amazing friends who do this for people as a living. I’m part of incredible online communities that share brand-developing tips for aspiring writers and creators. How to build your email list, use Instagram to gain influence, develop a tribe that follows your messaging and increase followers and engagement. The list goes on, and you could literally spend all your time working on brand development. As a creator, there is an urgency I feel to accomplish all this. I am filled with purpose when people read and respond to my efforts. I feel like this is the time in my life to just go for it. Take the next step. 

Yet, in spite of all this instruction, support and desire – I just can’t get it. 

It hurts my head.

I don’t know how to be a brand. 

Here’s the challenge – 

How do you brand a girl sitting in her bed, drinking from an owl mug, writing on her laptop, wearing sweatpants and her favourite 3 holed hoodie? Trying to figure out for about the 100th time, what her purpose is. Wrestling to remove the pressure for position, struggling with breaking off pride. Learning how to navigate new seasons, attempting to balance the extremes of joy and pain. Striving to serve and love with grace, often in the middle of mess.

Anyone have a Logo for that? 

(Submissions accepted)

I’ve decided for now, that I am going to be the un-brand. Living is more important that branding. Yes, I realize that people can do both. But it’s a struggle for me to separate those areas right now in my life, so I’m going to just press on as un-branded me. It’s not going to do anything for the 3 manuscripts I’ve got stored in my Word folder, or help with increasing my influence and following. My fonts won’t match, and my images are not in the same colour palette but I’m ok with all that. I might even get booted out of my creative support groups, but I need to take some deep breaths. I’m going to press into pursuing the purpose and plans being laid out before me. Live life beyond the perfect tagline, and highest likes. 

Remembering that people have always mattered far more than position, and that true influence comes from loving and serving in the real places of my life. 

I’m going to embrace my un-brandedness. 

A person without a brand.

Is a person. 

And that’s ok too. 

Home will always be waiting

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There are a lot of books written for parents at every stage of life, but I don’t think that I’ve come across anything that has quite prepared me for the transition of my first-born leaving home this fall. Granted, it’s gotten better since we all hugged and cried together on his campus and then drove away with him waving in the rearview mirror. I’ve pulled myself together since I went and watched Pete’s Dragon in a dark movie theatre on Labour Day and sobbed at the end because movies for kids are no longer the preferred choice in our family. I have made progress in the last 60 days, and our now smaller family of 3 has settled into a new routine. But I still cried this weekend when he left after reading week and proceeded to sad-eat an obscene amount of Halloween candy.

I know what you’re thinking. “Get a grip. Kids grow up. He can come home to visit whenever he wants.”  Well, maybe I don’t want to get a grip. I loved our life as a messy, loud, imperfect family of four. The massive dishes on the counter after school. The giant shoes all over the house. The never ending laundry that came with a child who has always changed his clothes at least three times as day. 

Where’s the book for parents at this stage? 

Everything changes. 

I do however remember the book that was read to me and all the other parents on the first day of kindergarten as we sat on the circle carpet with our kids. 

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.

A sweet little story about Chester the racoon who was going to school. He was nervous and didn’t know if he could handle being away from his mom so she came up with an idea to kiss his hand. Whenever he missed her, he could just put his hand on his face and remember that she loved him and that home was just a thought away. What a wonderful story to read to a room full of emotional parents. I walked away from that first day of school pretty much sobbing my heart out as I left my son behind. That was just the beginning. The beginning of all the years to come with both my children that really were all about letting go. I have thought about that book, talked about it, and kissed hands many first days of school since with my kids.

No matter where you are, home is just a thought away. 

Home.

I’ve come to realize that home for all this time has been a launching pad, a training ground, a place of preparation. Kids will grow up and they will leave home and no matter how hard it is, that should be your greatest hope for them. You want them to go into the world with confidence and excitement, ready to walk into their future. It wouldn’t be healthy to hold on forever, no matter how tempting  it is. That’s what I am learning in this season. There is sadness and joy in the letting go. 

My son has a new home.

But home is always waiting for him.

The night before Noah left for school he came into my room and said he had a present for me. He handed me a brown envelope and I opened it up. Inside was a copy of The Kissing Hand. After all these years, I had never bought a copy. I’m glad I didn’t, the one he gave me with forever be one of my most treasured gifts. 

You see, at the end of the book Chester realizes that maybe he wasn’t the only one struggling, but maybe his mom was going to miss him too and needed to know he would be thinking of her. 

So he kissed her hand, said goodbye and turned and danced away. 

That’s the book parents need.

How to love, and be loved and how to let it all go.

Let them dance away. 

Cheer them on.

Home will always be waiting. 

Always a thought away.