a fall reminder (for myself)

Taylor and I woke up yesterday and felt run over. He shuffled into the kitchen for coffee and was sitting at the table when I walked in. We locked eyes, shook our heads at how tired both of us looked, and burst out laughing. The last two months finally caught up with us.

Between work events, weddings, and travel over the past 8 weeks, it’s been hard to carve out time to simply be with each other. Those few hours yesterday morning- the ones where we sat on the couch, drank coffee, let the silence be, asked each other questions, stared out the window at the morning light – those were a gift. A mercy.

One morning last week, I woke up not because I wanted to, but because I had to. There were things on my list- work, errands, last minute shopping for wedding shoes – and in my exhaustion, my human self simply couldn’t muster the motivation. It had been almost 2 months of “just keep going a little longer” and I was spent. Instead of starting to get ready for work, I put on sweatpants, grabbed my coffee and sat out on my back porch.

I took a deep breath of the crisp morning air and as I began to pray, my eyes welled up. This particular season has been marked by almost daily wrestling with God. By unknowns and fears and just trying to get through the day. By wrestling to believe that God is who He says He is, that His promises are for me too, not just everyone else. You may have noticed I’ve posted here a little less frequently this fall- the writing is still happening. But sometimes, the writing needs to stay between me and my Dad for a little while.

As the tears came, I began to notice the cool breeze on my cheek. Squirrels and birds playing in the trees. My pup happy as can be dragging around a stick twice his size. The leaves blowing back and forth in the wind, hanging on for the last bit of life until next spring. And I remember:

Call this to mind, and have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. 

Every morning since then, I have woken up and read this verse. Because I am human and I so quickly forget. Because literally every day I have to remind myself that I am loved, that it doesn’t matter how bad I messed up yesterday- there are new mercies for me today. I have to remember to give myself grace, that it’s ok to not have it all together, to not have it all figured out because God’s mercy and love are enough for me today. I can stop the striving and rest in Him.

In the verse right before, the writer says that his soul continually remembers his affliction and his wandering, and is bowed down within him because of it. I relate to that- continually thinking about all the ways I’ve messed up, failed, not measured up.

Yet, it’s incredibly beautiful how, as we are in our darkest place, continually convincing ourselves that we’re not good enough, our good Father continually pours out his never-failing love and mercies on us. He speaks into our hurt, our exhaustion, our dark places and says, “You are enough.”

His new mercies and steadfast love are enough. They will never come to an end. That is a soothing balm to my tired soul today. I hope it is for you too.

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the first of the month

The realization that today is November 1st brought me refreshment this morning. It could be because a huge storm this past week finally blew all the humidity out of Austin. Or it could be because I live in Texas, and November is when it actually starts feeling more like fall and I don’t feel guilty for wearing boots. Or it could be that the first of the month brings a newness, an excitement, an expectation for what this month holds.

For us, this month holds several birthdays, a friend’s wedding, a big trip and the start of the holidays. It also holds our everyday lives- our work, our community, dinners at home, reading before we go to sleep and watching old episodes of The Office. 

In the midst of it all- the routine things and the special occasion things- I find myself expectant and hopeful for this next season. More than ever, I am learning to see myself as an artist, bearing the image of the divine Creator and viewing my life as art. I’m becoming more conscious of the daily tasks I perform and learning to value and respect them as sacred parts of this life that I’m living. 

Every person’s life is sacred. Every person was created by God to dwell in his land and do good. Every area of our lives deserves this kind of respect, from our most important relationships, to our most menial tasks. No part of our life is too small, too insignificant to give as an offering back to the Giver of all good things.  I’m learning this, slowly. I’m learning to see the tiny details of my life, the parts that no one else sees, as gifts. Gifts given to me for a purpose. And that purpose is to give them back. To empty myself. 

In an effort to lean in to this lesson- to lean in to the truth that all parts of my life are meaningful, purposeful and valued- I’m going to begin sharing monthly goals here. I was inspired by The Tiny Twig’s post this morning, and thought today was as good as any day to start. 

Goal-setting is not necessarily a new thing for me. I operate well when I give myself goals. I work well off of to-do lists, and feel a certain sense of accomplishment when everything is crossed off. However, I am definitely learning my capacity. I have a tendency to set goals too high for the time period, to overestimate what I can get done in a day, yet underestimate what I can get done in a month or a year. I set myself up for failure in both regards- expecting too much of myself in a short period, and shortchanging myself in the long run. 

I’m learning the balance between working hard and giving myself grace. I’m learning not to beat myself up or get frustrated when I get less done than I wanted to- my identity is not defined by my productivity. Yet, I’m also learning how to motivate myself and not allow fear to get in the way of me taking real steps toward maximizing the gifts I’ve been given. 

So, this is part of that. Below are my goals for November. They touch different parts of my life, but they are all things that have been on my mind lately. Things I want to do that are important to me. I’ll check back in at the end of the month and let you know how it goes. 

Goals for November: 

– Plan an editorial calendar for this blog- take initiative in writing, instead of it only being a reactionary tool. 

– Schedule out one time slot in my week that is dedicated to writing. 

– Find a great scented candle. 

– Surprise Taylor for his birthday. 

– Read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises

– Paint once. 

– Bake my grandmother’s pumpkin chocolate chip bread. 

If you feel inspired to share your goals, The Tiny Twig is hosting a link up this month. Head over to her blog today for more details. 

Happy November and Happy Weekend! 

seasons

The leaves on the tree that fills my living room window are slowly changing. Little specks of yellow are dancing around in the green before they gently float their way to rest on the ground three stories down.

It may still be in the 90’s, but signs that the season is changing are all around. The days are slowly getting shorter, Starbucks is selling pumpkin spice lattes, weekends are filled with football and the longing in my heart to wear boots and a scarf is growing larger.

Seasons change.

It’s one of those things about this life we live that we have no control over. We can’t stop the leaves from turning, or the freezing air from chilling our face. Flowers will bloom again, and the summer sun will  heat the air. And just as you start to believe it will never get cold again, you notice leaves falling.

The change is welcomed by some, hated by others, and walked through by all.

I’m not really a winter girl. Sure, I like to get cozy by a fire and drink hot chocolate. I like visiting my family in Philadelphia for the holidays and seeing actual snow. I like the sting on my cheeks when I step outside. And then about a month of that passes, and I’m ready for it to end. I’m ready for sunshine,  longer days, and swimsuits.

Despite my preference, the seasons change when they will.  I’ve currently walked through 24 winters, and no amount of despising the cold will keep that number from climbing one notch each year.

Life is a set of seasons. Some are filled with joy and freedom. The ones that make you feel like you’re on top of a mountain and can see for miles. Others are filled with broken hearts and lack of sleep. With days when it takes every ounce of energy and discipline to get out of bed.

Regardless of the season you’re in, there’s one thing you can count on: it will not always be like this.

For those of you in a hard season, those are sweet words. For those in a joyful season, sobering ones.

More and more I’m learning to accept the seasons as they come, and quit striving to control and change things I have no authority over. The season I’m in right now- the community we have, a steady job, writing more, being newly married – I’m not sure when it will end, but once it’s over my life will never again be exactly like it is right now.

I don’t want next summer to arrive only to discover that I missed out on fall, winter and spring. I want to live my life- every emotion, sound, taste, sight and experience. The crazy times and the peaceful ones- I want to engage with my life, to claim the season I’m in right now as exactly right. To spend my energy being present instead of exhausting myself by living in my dreams.

For me, this summer was a slow, calm season. Our calendars were pretty open. We took vacations, and spent many nights at home with no agenda. We went to bed early because we could. With the change of seasons, I can feel the hustle and bustle trying to overtake the calm. Our schedules are filling up, dinner is a shorter affair, we’re waking up earlier and going to sleep later.

The lessons of summer, of that slower time, are not lost. No instead, they are necessary for this next season. I find myself walking into the fall with a fresh perspective- one that says it’s ok to slow down, to rest. One that doesn’t define my worth by how productive or busy I am, but by the condition of my heart.

I’m walking into fall thankful- for the season that just ended and how it accomplished just what it needed to in my heart, for the season we’re stepping into and all the unknown that it holds.

*photo by the awesome, kate stafford