Happy New Everything

Another year is fresh before us, full of excitement, anticipation, hope, and motivation. For what, though?

Yesterday I had to be at church early to sing. A late night in combination with a head cold and an early morning had me sounding a little like Jack Nicholson after a long drag of a cigarette. I didn’t think I could pull off a morning of singing.

I drove to church, continuously trying to clear my throat, and watching the peaceful frozen, frosty flakes of morning falling to the ground. I had arrived early, so admired the morning flurry and the strange beauty it gave the bare trees. I started praying an earnest, overflowing prayer.

I sense it, y’all. This is the year. This is the year I didn’t even know I’ve been waiting for. I have no idea what it holds, but I know I’m ready. I have to be. Happy new everything.

After rehearsal and some coffee, my voice started to turn around and I sounded like myself again. I made it through church and as Hubs took the kids home to get them fed, I detoured to the cemetery.

I wasn’t going to go. It’s a hard line to walk sometimes, wondering if I’m doing the right thing by going. If I go too long between visits, I’m pained with guilt. If I go too often, I feel like I’m a bit needy. So I try to balance my time there, to where I won’t feel anything other than like a loving mother.

I wasn’t going to start my year with the mental battle of what a visit after church would make me feel like, though. So I wasn’t going to go. But I felt this urgent need that could only be met by a cemetery visit. I made the drive down the snow-covered street, turning in through the looming iron gate, and down the path to her spot.

I sat there, silently wishing her a happy new year. “Get out of the car.” I felt my spirit nudging me. But I was wearing church shoes, and nothing at all appropriate for snow-traipsing.

“Get out of the car.”

I hesitated. Eventually, I got out of the car and walked gingerly over the snow to her spot. Her angel solar light and purple metal flower were marking her headstone beneath the snow. I stood there, unsure of why I felt such a need to go visit, then to get out of the car.

“It’s your year, Mama.”

My stomach fluttered. I know, I feel it, too. But Harlynn… We might move. Far away, even. It’s a possibility.

Tears stung my face as the wind hit them rolling down my cheeks. This was why I was supposed to come. I had to reconcile the possibilities of our future with the events of our past, and the reality of our present.

I can’t take it all with me. And that has to be okay.

I wrestled with that, standing there at her gravesite. It’s become a comfortable spot – a place where I know I’m allowed to let any overflow grief work itself out. No one can judge me if I cry while standing at her headstone.

But it’s a new season. It’s a new year. It’s a new everything.

I have to find a new way.

“Happy new year, baby girl.” I blew her a kiss before carefully making my way back to the car. I drove through the cemetery, feeling less weighty. I wished the deer a happy new year, as they bedded in the trees. I wished the turkeys a happy new year as they strutted across the lanes. I wished the squirrels a happy new year as they scampered around.

Back through the iron gates, I drove away in a state of wonder.

What does it mean? When will it happen? How will we know?

I don’t know what this year holds. I know what I want to happen. I know what could happen. I know what might not happen, or what we might have to do instead.

I don’t have a single answer, and I don’t have even the slightest semblance of a plan.

But I know the start of this year means the start of a new everything.

Whether we move away, or stay nearby… whether we pursue big dreams or baby steps… whether my business succeeds a lot or only a little… nothing this year will stay the same as it always was.

The thief comes only to kill, steal, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~ John 10:10


See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. ~ Isaiah 43:19

I’m trusting the Lord in a way I haven’t before, and in a way I can’t rightly put words to explain. He’s going to make all things new. This year especially. I feel it.

Happy new year. Happy new everything.

Closing The Books On 2016

Somehow, without my planning or permission, another year has flown by. This year, like every other, was filled with ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. It’s always bittersweet to see another year come to an end.

Before we close out the year, I thought I’d talk about books. Because…reading. Reading has always been a love of mine. I still have a few of my favorite books I read (over and over again) as a kid, and I hope Little Miss enjoys them as much as I did.

This year, I didn’t do anywhere near the amount of reading I wanted to. I started a few books and never finished them. I have several half-read books lying about, that I need to finish. And I will. Some day.

For now, though, I thought I’d share the books I did finish this year and what they meant for me.

Crucial Conversations:

This book was loaned to me by some friends, then carefully placed in my kitchen cupboard where I promptly forgot about it. I read it as soon as I rediscovered it, though, and was excited to do so – especially after seeing testimony after testimony of how it transformed relationships and encounters for so many others who had read it.

I experienced no such transformation. The book is chock-full of powerful anecdotes for engaging in meaningful, productive conversation. I learned a lot, and even employed several of its tactics. I’m still very much an emotional responder, however, and my words (and facial reactions)  betray me far faster than I’m able to crucially converse. I would absolutely recommend this book, though, and I’m sure the average reader is a more even-keel conversationalist than myself.

4 Cornerstones For Strategic Living:

This is the book my client wrote and published this year. I read it multiple times from the editing phase to final production, and am grateful to have a hard-print copy of it myself. If you’re looking for a way to organize the chaos of your past and propel into a well-thought-out future, this quick read packs a powerful punch for your problem solving needs. Absolutely recommend it, and not just because I invested my own blood, sweat, and tears into its publication.

Start With Why:

This was a tough one for me. I was “assigned” to read it by my mastermind group, and eagerly began. While the content is pure gold, the chapters were so lengthy, I found myself struggling to complete one chapter at a time. I’d get halfway through a chapter, need a three day nap, and then be able to finish it before placing my bookmark. It took me a L O N G time to get through, because it was – what I call – a strenuous read. The chapters are ultimately wordy, and my patience and retention capabilities simply didn’t allow for it to be enjoyable for me. Great info, not ideal delivery. Would I recommend it? Yes. Fantastic principles on discovering the purpose behind your passions and visa versa. But be prepared to be in for the long-haul once you crack the cover.

Essentialism:

This book was a favorite for sure. I love McKeown’s writing style and some of the points he made changed my life. Not kidding. This is a powerful read for anyone – especially those who have too much going on, tend to be people pleasers, and can’t keep a handle on their priorities. A must-must-must read. Just go get it and thank me later.

#struggles:

Short aside story: One of my life dreams was to host my own radio show. I could never do it, though, because I can’t handle the majority of people who call in to radio shows. My eyes simply can’t roll hard enough for the ill-informed, long-winded, one-sided stories they spew. Knowing this, you’ll find it entertaining to note I got this book by calling in to a radio show. Heaven help us.

I loved this book. Start to finish, it was a harsh wake-up call for how we’re living our lives today in technology and selfie-centered social media, while trying (unsuccessfully) to demonstrate and walk out our faith. It was eye-opening, and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. I hope to do this one as a giveaway at some point. Loved, loved, loved this book. Go read it, and prepare to be challenged.

Finding Hope: Rediscovering Life After Tragedy:

This was a tough one for me. It was one I needed to read, and I’m glad I read it. I’m also glad I waited to read it until I was a few years beyond Harlynn’s death. This book was full of tough love, and most of it was very hard for me to swallow. But it was necessary, and definitely imparted wisdom I had been seeking. I will caution you, however, if you decide to read this book, prepare yourself. You will be challenged, you will be stretched, and you will have to face things you may not have had the energy to face before. Prepare yourself, but go confidently from page to page.

Seeing The Voice Of God:

This was a book by the same author of the 30-Day-Faith-Detox we did in February of this year. It was about dreams, and I’ve always had an interest in learning more about how the Lord uses dreams to communicate. I still remember dreams I had as a child, and there was one very special dream I had as an adult that I’ve blogged about before. I appreciated so much of this book, and if you’re curious about the Lord speaking through dreams, what dreams mean, why we have them, etc. then Laura’s book is the place to start.

Wake Up! for Heavens Sake:

This was such a treat for me to read. The author was the worship pastor at our church in Wyoming, and I had the privilege of singing alongside him each week during the service. He was also the pastor who told us, as we were seeking answers in where to move, to just trust God was leading us on the right NEXT step, even if it wasn’t our FINAL step. Boom.

This book unpacks the principles of worship, debunks the lies we’ve come to believe as church-goers, and is a no-bull, hard-hitting explanation of what it means to have an intimate relationship with God. I was “amen!”ing along with every page, and it made me miss Montey and his wife, Sharie, all that much more. Jam-packed, yet quick read if you’re looking for something to light your fire for the Lord!

Moving Mountains:

I begged my husband to read this book because it was completely life-changing for me. When he was halfway through, he looked up and said, “I can see why you loved this book.” Blown away, I asked, “Really?” Then I followed up with, “Wait, because you love it, or because you can see why I would love it?” He didn’t love it for himself – he simply understood why his wife was crazy about it. Well.

It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a believer in the power of prayer and the critical importance of praying, do not go another day without reading this book. This is one I will read again and again, and have made it a personal goal to read it at least once a year. Powerful stuff in here. I cried, I sat with my mouth dropped open, I praised – incredible read, and incredible conviction in the power of prayer.

The Ultimate Guide To Natural Farming and Sustainable Living:

Yes. I hear that song from Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the other…” in my head, too. But this is me, this is who I am, and this is the life I long to live. I bought this book as a birthday present to myself and read through it in a matter of a few days. It’s pretty much a homesteader’s handbook, and will be one I reference a multitude of times over the next several years as we pursue our homestead dreams. The author spelled things out so simply, so interestingly, and so thoughtfully – I would take a class from her in a heartbeat. If you have an interest in permaculture and planning, start with this book. You won’t regret it.

I of course am not mentioning the many cookbooks I read about Little House cooking, canning, preserving, etc. That’s another post for another day. But what a treat for me to learn the skill of canning! I have more books on deck to read for 2017. I love to read, and I love learning from reading. I can’t wait to share the next year’s book treasures with you!

What about you? What did you read and would you recommend to others?

Another Year, Another Chance

Yesterday was my 36th birthday.

Thirty-six years ago, on a Sunday evening, I made my entrance into the world and have been trying to make my mark in it ever since.

Things aren’t exactly where I thought they’d be. I’d go so far as to say my life is nowhere near how I imagined it would – or could – be by this point in my life.

Is that a bad thing? Some would say so. When nothing goes your way, it’s usually a bad thing…

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: When you walk with God instead of running away from Him, your life takes on a character you couldn’t orchestrate if you tried.

It’s time for a little birthday introspection.

pexels-photo_fallfarmsunrise

I thought by this time I’d be one of the best and brightest office managers in the corporate world.

That’s right, folks. My biggest occupational goal was to be a great office manager. That was after I gave up on my goal to be a teacher, because I discovered I wasn’t so hot on other people’s children. Don’t want to teach? No problem. Be an administrative assistant above other assistants. Boom. Dream life.

What on earth…

Thank the Lord in Heaven, He didn’t hold me to that “dream.” I’m my own boss today. My own boss! I have my own business! I work with a client who treats me like his little sister – which is both charming and sometimes obnoxious – and I love getting to do the work I do every single day. I work from home! I don’t have to wear shoes! I make my own lunch (and breakfast, and dinner) every single day. I get to be a mama to my kids 24/7. If I need to go to the doctor, I’m not required to take two hours of sick time. If I want to go on a road trip, I can work at every stop along the way without having to use up any vacation time. I don’t have a micromanager over me. I don’t have to punch a clock. I do what I love, when I want.

It’s not at all where I thought I’d be at this point in my life. It’s better.

I thought by this time I’d be a mother of four children.

Little did I know, my body isn’t made for having babies. I delivered three, I came home with two, and one is waiting for a heavenly reunion. Our parenting journey couldn’t have gone more haywire. When we were first married, we wanted kids right away. Shortly thereafter, we both decided maybe we didn’t want any at all. Seven years later, Little Miss entered the world via emergency delivery to save both our lives, and the tragedies kept occurring from there. I went from wanting two children to wanting none, to wanting four, to having two of my three babies survive. Barely.

It’s not at all where I thought I’d be at this point in my life. It was incredibly more traumatic. Yet I’m incredibly thankful for my children. All three of them.

I thought by this time in life, I’d own a two-story home in town, and be hosting social gatherings at every turn.

Let me tell you, we’ve learned so much about home ownership and renting. And both come with their struggles. We were fortunate to sell our home when and how we did. It couldn’t have worked out better. But we thought this renting would be a quick pit stop in between residences. Six months has turned into almost two years. This pit stop is the pits. I’ve tried to embrace the positive. I’ve tried to hold on to my Little Apartment On The Prairie gratitude-attitude. But seriously, folks, I want out of this place. Yesterday.

My dreams have changed, though. I don’t want a fancy house in town. I don’t need a heated garage. I don’t even need a paved road. God has shown me the life lessons we can learn on a homestead, and this country-bumpkin wants to return to her roots. I want some land, some chickens, and a big ol’ farmhouse pantry to store my home-canned goods. I want dirt. I want quiet. I want to not be able to hear my neighbors sneeze. Or swear. Or walk. Or drive. Or flush their toilet. I want wide open spaces. And I believe with all my might, God’s going to let us move to just the right space in just the right way in the very near future.

It’s not at all where I thought I’d be at this point in my life. But I’m thankful for the lessons learned, and the dreams reborn.

I thought by this time I’d be a size 6 again. I thought by this time I’d have my BA. I thought by this time I’d be speaking all over the country. I thought by this time I’d be writing my second book. I thought by this time 36 would look a lot different than it does, but I know it’s laying the foundation for a future I can’t even begin to imagine.

So here I am. Another year, another number, another adventure underway. Another prayer our upstairs neighbors use their inside voices. Another hug and sloppy kiss from the kiddos. Another day at my cozy desk in the corner of my living room. Another day to thank Him for the 36 years He’s given me, and the dreams He inspires on a continual basis.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us — so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.    ~ Psalm 67:1-2

This is the year…

We’re already a week into the new year and I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact another year has come and gone. I don’t understand how time seems to maintain two polar speeds, simultaneously. It flies by, yet moves at a snail’s pace. I wonder where it went while also wondering how much longer until the next thing…

I haven’t had to write any checks yet, so I haven’t messed up on the date, though I’m sure it’s coming. No matter how many scribbles I draw through a wrong date or how confused I am over the speed at which time does or doesn’t pass, there is no denying we are in a new year.

So! Here’s to…..well, here’s to what?

This isthe Year

This is the year. Of course there’s no guarantee on time. I can’t say anything or claim anything with absolute certainty. I might meet my end before I can even hit the publish button on this post. I won’t let that limit my dreaming, though.

It’s important to look forward. To have vision. To plan. It’s important to know what you’re working toward and to motivate yourself to make that work worthwhile. If you believe, as I do, we serve the God of life ~ not just because He put air in our lungs and a beat in our chest, but because He sent His Son to free us from the penalty of sin so we might know and embrace LIVING ~ give yourself the freedom to dream. If the joy of the Lord is your strength, then embrace that joy. Live it. Live. Dream. Plan. Look forward.

This is the year I’ll dream. This is the year I’ll allow myself to trust God has more in mind for me than what I’m doing. (Proverbs 29:18) This is the year I’ll trust Him to take the next step, no matter how far away it is from the step I’m currently standing on. This is the year I’ll follow His call.

This is the year I’ll lean not on my own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) This is the year I won’t limit myself, and in that same vein, limit what God is trying to do. This is the year I’ll be his child instead of his warden. (Matthew 18:3) This is the year I’ll seek Him first instead of seeking reasons to explain why it won’t. Or can’t. Or shouldn’t. (Matthew 6:33) This is the year I’ll open the door when He knocks. (Revelation 3:20)

This is the year I’ll trust His timing, no matter how long it takes. (2 Peter 3:8) This is the year I’ll remember what great things He has done for me. (1 Samuel 12:24) This is the year I’ll be a better neighbor. Citizen. Person. (Matthew 22:36-40)

This is the year.

This is the year I live for Him, rather than in spite of Him. This is the year I embrace who I was created to be rather than chase an image I was never meant for. This is the year I shed pounds and pounds and pounds of needless weight I’ve been carrying for years, placed on my shoulders as the burdens I refuse to lay down. This is the year I live for the right now, rather than for the worry of the what was.

I don’t know what this year has in store for you. I don’t know what you’re trying to overcome from last year. Or years long past. But I do know this can be your year, too. This can be the year.

This can be the year you do what you’ve always dreamed of. This can be the year you lose weight – and not necessarily from the spare tire around your waist, but from the burden(s) you carry. Unforgiveness. Doubt. Self-condemnation.

This can be the year you become free.

This is the year for me. Will it be your year, too?