the remodeled life

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“Open during remodeling”, we have all seen the signs.

Our neighborhood grocery store has been open during its recent remodel. In fact, they are still remodeling and rearranging.

Every visit has been a new experience as aisles have been moved and exchanged in favor of newer fixtures and a promised improved layout. The grocery store’s goal is to make shopping more eye-catching and functional.

At this point, most shoppers are just plain cranky and confused. Bread should be where it has always sat and not where the condiments used to be. I try to initiate conversation in whomever cashier’s lane I land and if appropriate to other shoppers. Over the past 6 weeks, those interactions have been tense and without a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings.

However this past week, I caught the eyes of a fellow shopper as I was hunting for non-dairy yogurt options and she exclaimed, “I can’t find anything!”

I smiled back at her with a chuckle and said, “Well, it certainly is a scavenger hunt at times!”

She stopped her cart from rolling past mine and remarked, “That is a better way to look at this mess. Much better than my attitude!” I assured her I had done plenty of grumbling on both our behalf.

Life is a lot like my neighborhood Fred Meyer store’s remodeling project. Just when I knew where all my favorite brands resided and could easily traverse the landscape in ten minutes tops, it underwent a renovation without asking my permission.

Any type of remodeling can be confusing and time-consuming especially when it involves your life.

Over the last 15 months since I started a job, I wrote less on this blog but when I did write, my assumption is I spent a lot of time bemoaning the loss of my former life. (I haven’t checked, but I am certain it is a good guess.) I wandered up and down the aisles of my life and I couldn’t find anything familiar or in its place. I most definitely didn’t view those early months as a scavenger hunt.

In the last couple of months, the office building where I work has added two women and if lined up, the three of us each represent 10 to 20+ years of being outside the paid workforce. It has been a comfort to look into each other’s faces and speak the same language, voice the same fears and feel the identical weight of remodeling a life.

I have discovered a newfound community at work every bit as much as among muttering shoppers. Everyone wants to know their feelings are not unfounded or isolated.

If you are dipping your toes into a new body of water, these are my words for you today.

  • You are not alone. Look around, take your eyes off the shelves of missing items and scan¬†your surroundings. You may discover fellow pilgrims walking the same aisle.
    You will recognize them as they bear the same glazed look you wear ūüôā
  • Give yourself time. Remodeling takes time. Usually it bleeds over set deadlines. This clich√© is true, take it one day at a time. There is only ever one Day One, just keep amassing days towards regaining your footing.
  • Extend yourself grace.¬†Some days you will blow it. You will make a mistake at work. You will oversleep and the world around you can tell. You will yell at someone in anger or forget an appointment. Take a deep breath, survey the collateral damage and move on. The same bad day rarely repeats. Don’t be so concerned with doing everything well that you forget the only requirement is to live a real life not a perfect one.
  • Keep life very simple.¬†Hold fast to home routines. Make the people within your four walls the most crucial priority. Simple meals, simple clothes, simple chores (YES), and simple schedules.
  • Ask for help.¬†Most of us do a bang-up job of looking like we have it all together. When in reality, we are hanging on by an ever-fraying rope. It is more obvious during a crisis for others to reach out but during life-rearrangement, struggle can be unseen. I have found text messages to be my saving grace and have been blown away by the expediency of others wanting to meet my needs. When someone asks, say yes please. I repeat say yes please. Pray. Even the most basic one-sentence plea, can create an unfathomable amount of peace as your burden is placed squarely on unshakeable shoulders.
  • Cling to the habits/routines which make you who you are.¬†If you are a runner, run. If you are a book lover, read. If creating a cake brings you joy, bake. If a noisy office drives you bonkers, find quiet. Get in the habit of asking yourself what’s missing that could benefit your days. Two areas I grieved when I started back to work were my morning routine and walking. This loss has shown up in my life in external and internal ways. It has taken me a year to realize I was frantic because those areas were absent rather than I couldn’t possibly add them to my days because I was so frantic.
  • Rest.¬†¬†On Instagram, I use the hashtag #faithfulfridayrest. Friday is my day off and I have tried exceedingly hard to make it a day of rest. Rest could be sleeping in (although I am not that great at it anymore), reading a book, extending my devotional time, going to a movie alone or with a friend or spending time with a friend. This is what a rainy Friday looked like with Courtney:
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    Unexpected perk for short girls: Luxury Loungers. Translation: No dangling feet!

    I try to resist the urge to “catch up on everything” on Friday. I overt my gaze from the clutter and dog fur lingering in corners. Most of all, I relish in being what most would call being lazy. If that is what you want to call it than I am going to re-brand the word and banish it from the bad word list. I embrace being lazy. It’s perfectly fine to not be perpetually busy.
    On Sundays, our family practices a Sabbath rest. I have written about it a lot over the years. I viewed it as stopping everything related to working.
    However, last year our church spent a year focus called practicing the rhythms of grace. One of those practices was Sabbath but they called it Celebration. I was humbled to realize I had not considered taking a Sabbath as a time of celebration. An hour, a half-day, a day or longer of rest is much cause for celebration. A chance to celebrate all that God has brought us through during the week and in all the ways He has made Himself present within the course of those days. It is very easy to turn any practice into a drudgery. This year, I have been looking at rest as celebration. I now think of resting as doing my lazy dance.

Sometimes our days are laid out for us like the clothes we will wear the next day and other days, we simply cannot find any article of clothing to match.

I pray you hunt well and don’t wander around feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.

Because you don’t hunt and search alone.

The remodeled life can be like a scavenger hunt of reclaiming sought after items.

But if your scavenger hunts were anything like the ones of my youth, often the person beside the open door would announce,

“I don’t have that particular item but I have this. Will this work instead?”

In the remodeled life, you get to decide what works for you and what to leave behind.

Choose well, my friends.

 

 

sabbath moments

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Each week, we travel our way through a tangled network of iron and steel.

The Sabbath is your opportunity to joyfully take the off ramp marked detour.

Sleep.

Play.

Laugh.

Just Be.

May the Lord whisper His blessed reminder, it’s just you and Him.

The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace

Numbers 6: 24-26

 

 

 

 

 

when sabbath looks like a puppy

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We abandoned our plates of steaming mixed-up eggs

and puckered ribbons of turkey bacon when the first speckled

puppy came into view.

At first we peered through our window as if we 

were puppies in a pet shop begging for an owner.

Then we opened our front door and ran down the

stairs as fast as our stocking feet would carry us.

A small crowd descended from all directions of

our neighborhood and cars carrying smiling passengers would slow

but continue to their destination.

Eye contact was fleeting as none of us were the main attraction.

Our attention was firmly placed on wobbly paws and enchanting eyes.

Oh the licks and the pretend bites and the tunnels they

made of our legs compelled us to attempt to contain their wiggling

skin in our arms.

Play fighting and the hazards of curbs created

their own brand of peril.

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We call out our favorites which change with each a flick of a

tail or a blue-eyed gaze imparted.

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Time  evaporated.

The to-do list can wait.

The time for eating has lost its turn.

Puppies play.

We are entranced.

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An under-the-weather boy regained his strength.

Sometimes the Sabbath looks like a puppy.

You might feel you are peering through a window with your nose

pressed upon it hoping that you can summon yourself to leave

the familiar constraints of busyness.

Why does rest seem inconceivable when it should be second nature?

The Sabbath invites us to draw back the curtains allowing the

rising and setting sun to warm our faces.

It’s a gift to close a door on the other six days and

prop open a screen door for play to visit for one day.

It’s not designed to enhance our attachment to watches

or cell phones.

It’s a call to sharing a meal and sometimes

even letting the contents of the plate grow cold

because your heart beckons you to more satisfying feast.

Why not put the car in park for a while?

It’s about losing time yet gaining your soul.

It’s being reminded we are all God’s favorite and He won’t

ever change His mind.

He has issued an invitation to seek rest and delight

and let work simply cease.

How often we forget that God enjoys

seeing His children tumble into the

warm sweet spot of joy.

Some days it is all about getting your face licked by

a creature with fur whose chief delight is to play.

May your Sabbath look just like a puppy.

May you take one day each week to rest

and play with great abandon.

***My dear dad had such perfect timing
sending me a guide for the Sabbath
and play given 
during a church’s sermon.
You will find it under  A Helping Hand
under the menu at the top of the blog.

Thanks Dad!

more random madness

I had every intention of writing this week.

I think the previous week’s high from attending the writers

conference was replaced by a bit of a dip.

The blinking cursor seemed extra bold and although

I had a list of post topics, it just didn’t happen.

If you think I abandoned my recap of the conference,

I decided to add the last bits and pieces to the end of the

post titled agendas.

I just forgot to let you know. Check it out.

Also, sometimes you take a step outside of your own

world and attempt to view someone else’s reality and

it can make writing a random post seem a bit insignificant.

If you would be so kind to lift a prayer for Steve Stern and the

Stern family.

You can read more of their story here.

I innocently left the house yesterday to meet a friend for breakfast which

could have turned into a late lunch due to our lengthy chatting.

When I returned home, I found my March Madness bracket all in

disarray.

All I can say is as long as Michigan State wins it all, my beat up and bruised

bracket will be somehow be redeemed.

Spring break is upon us and I will probably only be watching basketball with

one eye now that the upsets are happening.

I thought I would share a few books I have read and what is on my list

to read in the weeks to come.

I set a ridiculously high reading challenge goal on good reads and

I need to pick up the pace.

A few books I have enjoyed since the beginning of the year:

Product Details

Pursue The Intentional Life

Such a tender and wise book about numbering our days right.

…a book to help me live my highest until the Lord calls me home.
I long to see Christ’s life formed in me. I want to become the person
God had in mind when He created me. I yearn to touch the world
for God’s glory and advance His kingdom. The substance of this¬†
book represents my earnest desire to “number [my] days…that
[I] may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Product Details

Made to Crave

I have circled this book for quite a while.
I finally took a chapter a day and finished it.
Great wisdom and spiritual help for food issues.

I underlined quite a number of passages but this

verse was the gold I mined from this book:

“You have circled this mountain long enough.
Now turn north.”
Deuteronomy 2: 3

Leaving Church

Barbara Brown Taylor wrote a book on my top ten list,

An Altar in the World.

Leaving Church chronicles the season in her life as an

Episcopal priest and her decision to leave the pulpit.

This  is not the life I planned or the life I recommend to others.
But it is the life that has turned out to be mine, and the central
revelation in it for me–that the call to serve God is first and last
the call to be human–seems important enough to witness to on paper.
This book is my attempt to do that.
Like every believer I know, my search for real life has led me through
at least three distinct seasons of faith, not once or twice but over
and over again. Jesus called them finding life, losing life and 
finding life again, with the paradoxical promise that finders will be
losers while those who lose their lives for his sake will wind up
finding them again.

The Invisible Girls

Sarah Thebarge spoke at the writers conference

and I found her book at the library.

Our public library has what are called Lucky Day books.

They are high demand books which you can check out only for

one cycle. They must be completed in 3 weeks and cannot be

renewed.

It was a lucky day to find The Invisible Girls waiting for me and it

took me 2 days to read it. If life could have stopped it would have been

a few hours.

This book is brilliant and heart wrenching and redemptive.

Go back to the agendas post and re-read what I wrote about Sarah’s

talk.

God is writing your story.

Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year.

On the teetering stack now.
For some reason, my book cover images
don’t want to cooperate so click on the
links.
It’s Friday…perhaps the blog is
ready for the weekend or just plain
rebellious.

The Memoir Project

Truth & Beauty

Let Your Life Speak

Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred
Rhythm of Rest and Delight

Divergent

Tattoos on the Heart

What are you reading?