Because Winter Always Ends

Have you ever walked through a time of your life that seemed to never end? The times you were certain it wouldn't change or get better? 

I'm willing to bet those moments aren't the highlights of your life. Not the day you won the award, got married, or vacationed at the beach; no, those always seem to go too fast. Usually it's the difficult times, the one's where we are stretched thin across our life. Those are the days that last a lifetime. 

But as I've worked to stay with my theme word for the year of "notice," I've watched new life fight to push its way through the mud and dirt in our yard. The tiniest leaves popping up from underneath the dark ground. Like it was asking me "Have you noticed? After every single winter comes spring." 

I'm a big fan of consistency, and I love how seasons never fail to change. And while this is an analogy that is used a lot, there is value in sitting in the simple truth that seasons will continue to change.

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As we say goodbye to another season, I can't help but think winter is a beautiful time. So much stillness and pause; it feels like nature is taking a breath and breaking after all the hard work of spring, summer, and fall. Winter also causes me to think of times or seasons in our life when things don't seem to be growing, changing, or becoming what we hope they will be. It tends to connect with grief and longing and what we experience as we wait for new life to grow again. But then, just when it feels like the season will never end, it does.

And in comes spring. 

Almost like an expected visitor you gave up on, she arrives. It's useful to notice that when spring comes, nature doesn't auto correct itself into the new season. Winter often lingers while spring is settling in-- nature ever so slowly responds to the change in weather. 

We're like that, too. Life adjusts and we finally begin to catch up with the change, stunned that it finally happened. There is wisdom in our ability to breathe and allow seasons to blow in and out. But what gives us this groundedness? What allows us to know that it will change and yet not be crushed by the weight of it? 

The writer of Ecclesiastes chews on these same ideas here:

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build up,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The truth is, we don't know exactly what each season will hold; whether tears, laughter, goodbyes or beauty. But in this uncertainty, it is a gift to remember that as we hold fast, we also are held by the only one who cannot be shaken by our seasons.

Jesus is so very dependable and stable in our change. Dear reader, He is the very best thing. As we learn to be flexible and adaptable while life continues to toss us about, we can lean into the one who gives us roots in every season. Join me there?

Updated 4/12/16

 

I've linked up this week over at: Intentionally Pursuing the Heart of GodSimplified LifeRedemption Diaries3D Lessons for Life ,Purposeful FaithSuzanne Eller, 152 Insights to My Soul, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Holly Gerth.

Unexpected Gift #FortheLove

I don't think anyone would accuse me of being "too easy going" (wink wink). You may have noticed in my writing (or not), that I am a deep feeler and quite passionate about many issues.

Truthfully, much of my life I have worked to become a person who is able to adjust when things come up and change plans when needed. This has never been easy me, but I come by those traits honestly. I grew up in a loving, dysfunctional and chaotic family and so my ability to think ahead, be responsible and get things done have allowed me to overcome many obstacles in my life. 

But here's the deal, those parts of me that want to plan ahead, fix, and control usually assume the worst about most situations. At times I fail to see the possibilities and gifts right in front of me. 

This happened to me recently. I saw on Jen Hatmaker's facebook page that she was looking for members for her book launch team. I decided to apply, but honestly, I figured "no way." I filled out the application quickly, hoping I would be picked but mostly skeptical. 

Nearly a week later, I received an email from Jen and her team that said this: 

Knock, knock. Who's there? YOU, because YOU are on my Launch Team for 'For the Love'!! Yeah baby!! We only had room for 10% of all applicants (what the??), and we think you got the stuff. THANK YOU for your amazing enthusiasm; I couldn't possibly love you more if I tried with all my might. You are leading well and using your influence like a boss. We all think you are amazing. We are going to get this thing off the ground together! Let me tell you, launching a book is really fun. And some of you are going to end up on the inside cover, so THAT. I said on January 1st this year that one goal was to spend less time pleasing "Not My People" ... well let's be clear: YOU ARE MY PEOPLE. I love you so. I really do. I am loyally yours forever. Let's do this thing.

My marketing team will now tell you all the fun details.

- Jen

Um, what?

You think I "got the stuff?" 

Here's what I appreciate about this, God is always challenging what I think I know. And, it's good for me. Yes, Aundi, sometimes things do turn out well. 

It's interesting that even when I rationally know that He is good, part of my soul still struggles for me to think that it is true. And yet, these are the gifts He gives because He is good. 

This book launch has been a blessing for me already, partly because the book is hilariously funny, endearing and helpful (more on that later), but also because of the opportunity to meet the 499 other people who are part of the launch. Jen and her team set up a facebook group for the launch team, and it literally makes me feel like I am at a summer camp/spiritual retreat/group therapy all wrapped into one; they are refreshing, funny and supportive. 

So that part is pretty great.

I've observed that the dynamic of the group in general seems to be a humble confidence...and you know what? I love that. I think that is how God hopes for us to approach the good gifts He gives. That we would be humbly confident that He longs to give those good gifts to us and love on us. 

It may not be a book launch for you, but what is it?

What possibilities are you assuming the worst about, but if you risk the hope, it may just be worth it? 

 

I've linked up this week over at: Intentionally Pursuing the Heart of GodSimplified LifeRedemption Diaries3D Lessons for Life , Purposeful FaithSuzanne Eller and Holly Gerth.

Battle Scars

In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others
— Brennan Manning, Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

She asked me if I wanted to see the scar. The one from when a girl on the other team scissor kicked her with cleats on the soccer field. She was proud of it, because it showed how tough she was. Frankly, I was impressed; I did think she was tough.

I chew on this memory of my old friend and I love how proud she was of her scars.

I wish that we lived in a world where each of us had the confidence like my friend, to show off their battle scars. But it’s usually the opposite. We hide, hoping that no one will notice the years or the seasons that we were broken. Maybe they won’t ask about the divorce. Maybe no one will notice the time we were out of control. 

If we just act like nothing is there, maybe there won't be?

And as for us, when we look at the scars; we see shame.

We see lack.

We see that we are broken, or at least we have been.

I grew up with the untrue belief that I needed to look or act a certain way to be acceptable. My perfectionism was born in this place, and it was all rooted in the fear and the need for things in my life and in my family to be okay.

Maybe if I’m perfect, it will be okay.

Maybe then my family won’t shatter, my dad won’t yell and my mom won’t drink.

Maybe.

*******

It takes a lot of energy to keep all those scars under wraps. Perfectionism is seductive because it causes us to feel like we really do have it all together. It can feel so affirming to look the part. 

I think that's how most dependencies and addictions start. For a moment, we feel whole, and when it all comes crumbling down, all we really want is that perfect moment back so we can feel okay again. Perfectionism allowed me to not face or acknowledge the parts of my story that are/were messy, murky and in process. I see now that I didn't think it was safe to be that raw. 

But I have begun to learn the beauty and power of scars. 

I remember as a newly minted counselor, confiding in my sister how unworthy I felt to walk with people through their pain. Do you know what she told me? She said, "The thing I've learned is that my wounds and scars are like badges of honor...it gives people hope to see that you have walked a hard road, but here you are. Those pieces of your story are exactly what make you so strong." 

What a gift to have those words of life spoken to me. It helped me to know that each and every heartache I have experienced has the potential to bring life to someone else. And as my own personal faith has grown, I have learned about the power of the wounded healer. Ultimately, that is who Jesus was for each of us; for it was by his wounds that we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).  

Each of us in our own way, with our own scars, carry badges with us of the roads we have traveled and the things we have survived; like medals strewn around our neck, I believe the Lord values our stories so. We each are a tapestry of pain and of hope, and when you step back from it, you may just get a glimpse of how stunning it is. 

So today, I hope that you can hear that your wounds have redeeming value. 

You may not be in a season yet where the wound has healed enough to be a scar that can be shown and discussed. But I pray that by the grace of God, good support and possibly even counseling...there can and will be a time when your deepest hurt can be your greatest strength. 

 

I've linked up this week over at: Intentionally Pursuing the Heart of GodSimplified LifeRedemption Diaries3D Lessons for Life , Purposeful Faith and Suzanne Eller

 

 

When We Find Life in Leaving

Standing over the stove, you can tell she’s in her element. The woman can cook.

She may not be able to recite the recipe exactly, and may have to tell you in three separate phone calls the revisions to the recipe, but cooking is her love language. That and waking up at 5am to make sure your pants were hemmed when you needed them.

Service has always been the way she supported.

You see her there, dicing the onions, and her hands look tired and worn. She’s done the work of a hundred men in her time, I’m sure of it. Never met another woman who could do what she’s done; raising five kids, keeping a 6000 square foot house and owning a clothing business. That’s nothing to thumb your nose at.

Sometimes it feels like she’s a million miles away and she probably is; her story is a beautiful and a broken one. Filled with so much loss and leaving, when you hear about it, it makes your heart feel a physical pain. Most folks don’t know what to do with that pain. 

They’re not sure what to tell a woman who started out in this country already misplaced. A refugee from Budapest, her family was supposed to head to Washington D.C. Instead, the government sent them to Washington State. Her stories of feeling “wrong” from the start, with her accent and pierced ears, always did make me think differently about my peers who felt like they were on the “outside.” 

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