He sat across from me, fingering a piece or two, half-heartedly looking for a connection for the pieces. After only a few minutes he said, "I don't know why anyone would choose to sit here and do this." This guy...making me laugh since 1995. We had pulled the puzzle out of the game closet over Christmas break. The other puzzler in the family wanted to work on it with me. But then she didn't. She said, "I think I'm over puzzles. I kinda hate 'em now." This kid...making me roll my eyes since, well I can't remember when! So here I am stuck with 1000 pieces of the same color of yellows and greens, and clearly in.this.alone. I just didn't think I had the heart to sit and find the masterpiece in all the chaos.
Until I sat down and realized I did.
I have found so much of my life like that. Hard things are often done alone. That's where the character is built, or so they say. I often find myself thinking how overrated character feels. The truth is, this puzzle hasn't really been about completion. It's been about puzzling out the hard, real life things weighing on my heart. If I didn't take the late night hours to sit and try to match some cardboard pieces up, I'd distract myself with something that would numb and ignore the bigger things, the important things.
As bummed as I was to be going about this puzzle alone, I've also found the process to be quite refreshing! We each need time to process life, to make sense of things, to heal, to savor, to give thanks. The process is what life is about -- believing there to be a masterpiece at the end keeps us going!
Years ago I remember saying I would never be the kind of mom that let my kids watch a lot of TV. For the first two kids, I was able to stick to the practice of very little TV (and it showed in their behavior). By my third kid, our family circumstances and my ability to keep up were so very different that in order for me to make it, TV helped out sometimes! And still does (and it shows in his behavior). Perfect ideals work in a perfect world. But who lives there?
The older I get the more I see how life has a way of shifting ideals around, of bending some straight lines and coloring some white spaces gray. In most cases, the shifting in ideals has made me a better person. Can you relate?
As we practice facing up to less than ideal circumstances throughout life, more and more pride gets shaved off the edge of our person and more and more grace begins to shape who we are. Our life experiences help bring reality to the ideals we started out with. We had to start somewhere, but growing into balance helps make us a people who live with a grace frame of mind.
So what am I trying to say in all this?
As parents, ideals got us started, but balance keeps us going.
All the colors of life pop against the gray background we end up in.
As humans, we are all in process.
We can avoid conflict with a grace frame of mind.
As super as you might feel, look out, there's a man about to surface! (see what happened there?)
Wherever your ideals fall on the chart today, I hope you make room from some gray in all your black and white. Grace usually lives there.
** NOTE TO THOSE WHOSE PANTIES MAY BE IN A WAD: this post is not speaking to the clear black and white of right and wrong. This post speaks to the gray of the less than perfect life we all find ourselves living because we are humans living in a broken world. Humans in need of grace.
With the weather consistently more spring than winter, it's hard to not think about flowers and gardens. Surely winter is playing tricks on us, but to satisfy the spring bug I decided to check the viability of some old seed packets I had laying around. (I found this process helpful) While my hands have been busy with these earth-smelling test baggies, my heart has been foraging through some truth.
The truth being that our greatest moments of growth come from our quietest moments alone. The little seeds don't suddenly wake up a sunflower or a cucumber, but require days and months of steady and quiet growth. Our growth as a person and in the matters of the heart are much the same. Daily nourishment, unhurried dwelling, faithful remaining -- these make the difference between those who discover transformation and purpose and those who don't.
Press in deep to the soil God has you in now because He plans to grow you up for His glory and your good.
When the nice people gave our family a money gift for some fun ("Not Bills!"), we started hootin' and hollerin' (maybe on the inside!). We decided to rent out the skating rink for just our family! Ha, not really, but no one else was there except our family so I told Tegan that's what I did! He thought it was kinda funny, for a second! (eyeroll)
I posted the picture above on my instagram the night we went skating. Even though the picture is poorly captured, the imagery fit so well to how I see my life right now: the blur that won't end as time keeps running away from me. Time with my people all together in one place for most of the time. Someday, when the blur settles a little (it will happen, right?!), these terrible pictures in a dark skating rink will remind me of the days filled with all manner of laughing, fighting, and forget-me-not togetherness.
Our lives are far from put together, our family a hot mess almost always, but taking the time to be together -- to have fun, to stick around with and for each other (and take a pic or two) -- are the times that strengthen our circle of love. The love that makes life feel all manner of full. The love we each carry with us as time keeps carrying us along.
Procrastinating the need to crawl out of bed one slow morning, I grabbed my phone to scroll some beauty. With one finger bent across the top of the screen covering my camera eye (because creepers), I used another to pull square pictures up the screen as I engaged in the legitimate creeping of Instagram. I usually enjoy the inspiration from other's lives, but instead of the tranquil vignettes, I was seeing opinions laid out in the streets and proud faces among the chaotic crowds.
Unsure what was going on (I live under a rock), I quickly googled the news about the largest Women's March in history. I also, quite surprisingly, discovered a little fire under my butt as a result. Who knew I could feel so strongly about this?
For a good while now I have been wrestling with women in our culture, even in the Christian circles. There's an agenda in the undercurrent carrying us away from the Biblical perspective and place of womanhood (no surprise), and sometimes it seems everyone else is missing it. I'm not yet ready to put all my thoughts on the matter out there: a) I want this space to be a place of acceptance and encouragement, b) I'm trying to hear God's whisper in the midst of the noise. My opinion matters little, but His is a pretty big deal!
The fire under my butt helped me see a need to:
refrain from the temptation to quickly judge one another
meander through the truth rather than hurry toward wrong solutions
talk less, listen more
Not just in these heated political times, but in everyday living.
I'm really glad you stopped in today. What are you wrestling with today? I'm listening.