Exhale.

Momentarily exhaling. I didn’t actually realize how long I’ve been holding my breath. I guess it started two or three weeks ago when I was preparing for an incredibly laborious and mentally taxing season of professional work. At the same time, I felt a bit burdened  with  a couple of personal situations. Just about the time I begin to release, my son is hospitalized with some super bacteria  and we are in the K suite for 5 days. He is well. We are fine.

Process.

That is what I do often, but particularly following a series of unexpected circumstances, or as I call them, unscheduled program interruptions. And it’s ok to process. It’s okay to dissect, ponder, cry, praise, and correct course

I’ve found over the years that people don’t really like process. It’s deep. It’s revealing. It exposes that tiny truth you may not want to face. It makes you vulnerable. It’s real. But, processing life in all of its rawness is what allows us to grow in strength. Real process, in all of its authenticity, is a partnership with God. It is intimate and imparts great wisdom.

People asked often last week about me. They wanted to know how I was. Tired? Afraid? Frustrated? Truthfully, I was in a bubble. Insulated from feeling much.  It was the prayer of so many and the grace of God, I believe. But generally speaking, in situations with things like family crisis, hospitalizations, legal battles, family tension, empty nest, terminal illness, financial struggle, you don’t really have an opportunity to feel anything while the game is in play, so to speak. you just function. You just survive. And when the pressure subsides, and you arrive at commencement of that which was weighty, you have a choice.

You can exhale and move on

or

You can exhale and engage process

I need God with me during play review and highlights. I am aware that I need him beyond the game. I am absolutely incapable of making any kind of great analysis on my own. That being said, I don’t always know what is in my own best interests, but He does. And, I am His. The flesh is strong and assertive, it can’t always interpret clearly  what He is doing. Sometimes even my own desire prevents me from acknowledging His. He’s whispering, but it’s not what I want to hear. I decided many years ago that He gave me this life to steward because he wanted to do something thru me as a small part of a collective body. It’s something significant that can only be accomplished if I would surrender.  In this place, process was originally birthed.

Not my will, Lord. But Yours.

There is nothing dismissive about this prayer. There is nothing que sera sera about it. It is every bit intentional, and never spoken in generality. It is a prayer I pray often and very strategically.

For example,

“Lord Thank you for the great work you are doing in Owen.  You are here. Emmanuel, GOD WITH US. You are the giver of every good and perfect gift and you love Owen with a ferociously brave and deep love. You know all things…exactly what care He needs, how long he needs to be in this hospital. We believe he is amending because of the price you paid and the Word you’ve given us. We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. I submit my desire and agenda to you, in exchange for your wisdom. I ask you to give me the Mind of Christ in every question I ask of physicians. I thank you for strategic insight…both in revelatory word and in walking it out. Have your way. It’s perfect. And you will bring us to a perfect end. Show us what you want us to see. Reveal the word for this hour.”

I did not recite my 3 favorite healing scriptures, pray a pretty prayer over Owen and tell everyone he is perfect. I did not ask the Lord specifically to release Him at 2pm on Wednesday afternoon because I was out of sick days at work, and didn’t want to miss church rehearsal. I did not develop a plan on my own and ask God to bless it and everyone to agree with us. It’s a relationship. I keep talking to God and He keeps working with me. There is no formula. It’s a live feed.

I BREATHE EVERY MOMENT TO HEAR FROM HEAVEN.

I know this post is a little different. I know people may think it’s strange. You don’t have to read this blog. I’m not looking for a fan club. I don’t expect it to be a bestseller. But, this is my process. This is what is real in me. This is how I live.

DEPENDENT.

I am dependent. When things do not make sense, I trust Him. When I am wrong, I let God correct me. When I am broken and hurt, I let Him heal me. When I am mad, I tell Him. When I am disheartened and disappointed, I cry out. When I am happy, I give extravagant praise. And in struggle, the praise is just as extravagant. I love to sing to him and raise my hands. I love to let my fingers roll up and down the piano and His song to come forth. I don’t care who is watching. I don’t care if it sounds broken. When I’m needy, I’ll lay on the floor still until I encounter Him. I wait for His instruction. I wait.

God rescued us this week. I’m not quite ready to share all of it with you. But, I can tell you, we were rescued.  Because He loves well, but not just that. WE WERE LISTENING. WE WERE FOLLOWING. I had been prepped the week before in many ways I did not realize until the post-game show.

Always Listen. He is not always going to give you what you want. He doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear. His work in your life won’t always look successful by man’s criteria…like fireworks and marquees. But it is deeply effectual. It is tremendously valuable in the scope of eternity. He does deep work. It starts in death. You die to yourself and he raises you up in Him.

When you begin to encounter Him in that way, you see His goodness. You begin stop asking for stuff, provision and circumstances to go your way. you stop asking for things to be easy, but that He’ll give you more grace and make you brave. You begin to pursue his presence…to interpret  His heart…to serve others in a way that is bold and beautiful. You think little of yourself and you have every confidence that He will complete the good work He started in You because your destination is HIM. You get to HIM THRU HIM not of yourself. You’d loose the affection of every person you know to stand for what He says is truth.

HE IS THE REWARD.

Gratitude is the overflow of your heart. Desire to know Him your sole pursuit.

Prayers go from “Bless us, Lord” to

“God, let me want what you want for me, more than what I want for me.”

It’s the only place to live. It’s the prayer that will break open the most peace….in a hospital, in circumstantial ruin, in disappointment, in dimly lit places of your life. It’s a bold prayer and one you will pray if you are serious about knowing Him.  You need to know Him. He is the way to life.

Be Brave. It’s what He calls you.

 

The Expose

Until you’ve experienced a stranger approach you in the middle of a store and adjust your clothing, you really have been lacking in a significantly humbling social interaction. And, not in a  you’re-so-cute-let-me-adjust-your-flipped-collar kind of way.

It started with a health detox, actually. Intrigued by a process that claimed to break bad habits, give me a 5-8 pound jumpstart weight-loss and invigorate me after 3 short (ah hem) days, I found myself trading in caffeine and a litany of other dietary vices for the glimpse of a better me. What I actually received was 3 days of annoyance, bloating, gas, hunger, mental fogginess and a couple of uncharacteristic behaviors.

After work Wednesday, I took myself to Hobby Lobby for the 5th time in 2 weeks (as if I needed anymore fall decorations) to wander. I do this sometimes when I’m trying to decompress. Some gals go to the gym, for a run, grab a drink, yell at their husband…whatever. Me? I blindly pull from an empty coffee mug a piece of paper containing the winning store of which I will wander aimlessly for an hour or so while my mind contemplates a variety less-than-noteworthy (at least for today) topics on life and the like.

About thirty minutes into my wandering, I notice this lady following me. Certainly, there could be only one explanation: she wants my gourds.  So, I shuffle them into my cart quickly, along with a few other scarecrows, and scurry one aisle over. I am feeling awkward, and mildly stalked, if I’m honest. But, at least now I’m out of her way.  Perplexed by the variety of autumn welcome mats and decorations, and how in America we have an overwhelming selection of ridiculous and unnecessary things, my thoughts are interrupted by a whisper.

“Excuse me.”

It’s the gourd girl. She is now in every ounce of my personal space. Turning around abruptly, I whisper,

” Yeeeessss?”

“Um. Your skirt.”

“What about it?”, I reply looking down, without notice of anything off kilter.

“In the back. It’s…um…tucked up a bit.”

I glance to my left and see nothing. Assuming it’s just a slight fold, and to humor her apparent OCD, I just give it a little tug and start to walk away.

“No, wait…let me help you”, she cries.

Suddenly, I realize that the entire back of my skirt is tucked up into my T and, while I am decompressing, everyone else in the establishment has been undeservingly exposed to the most scantily clad bare buttox to grace the Hobby Lobby in some time. Perhaps the management wondered if they were the next unassuming victim : PEOPLE OF WALMART- THE HOBBY LOBBY EDITION.

“OH!” I muttered. Thank you so much! Oh My goodness.”

 Wow. That is really embarrassing. I’ve only been walking around here like this for at least 30 minutes with no knowledge. I mean, I didn’t even feel a draft.”

“Yes, I know.”

With that she walked off, embarrassed but feeling accomplished, clearly.

Wait. She knew?  My thought? She knew that I had been, unknowingly, conducting a toosh expose for all of the people in the room? She knew I was humiliated but didn’t quite know to to express that in words?” She knew that I’d not had caffeine in 48 hours, thus showing mind-altering effects?  She knew that I agonized over how many others also knew about this game of skirt-and-peek? She knew about my struggle with how much is to too much when it comes to fall decorations? She knew that I was dreading the afternoon commute home…the dinner and homework drill? The laundry? That I’d be drinking a protein shake while my family ate? What did she know? HOW COULD SHE KNOW?

I often think about how much people know. I suppose that is, in part, why I share this.  I wonder how historically automated responses toward certain relational situations  and people would differ if everyone had the benefit of full disclosure? Although, I certainly didn’t mean to take my hypothesis to such literal levels. So, on days when you think that everyone has it all together and you’re playing catch up or measure up or whatever, just remember me. The girl who had her skirt butt-tucked in  a T-strap holding a pair of gourds. And be thankful, very thankful, that even for a disaster like her, someone was kind. People, in general, are still very good-natured.

That day ended as it should: with me returning to my car, that won’t start….because I never put it in park.

 

 

Is This Just Coffee Talk?

Coffee is a ritual. Yes, it has a function relative to the success of personal productivity, but the ceremonial nature of morning coffee is bliss. That is why no matter the day, the health program, the location, the distractions, coffee is always my morning mainstay. The ceremony is key. Something about hearing the beep of a full pot, and inhaling the aroma of that first pour as it consumes a hollow cup makes me feel like all is right in the world…at least my little corner of it. Clearly, it is unwise for one to interrupt the first sip of java, perhaps even life-threatening. I creep over to the table in a dimly lit nook, firmly clutching mug, and lift open the laptop. News feeds, Facebook, Email. In a moment, life thrusts itself upon the sacred moment of the ceremonial first cup.  How easily I am distracted.

Wait. Did I just equate social media and real life?”

People argue that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, are an illusion;  a highlight reel, a skewed version of reality…fake even. Thought- worthy notion for sure. Yet, I find myself working it all into what has become, for me, another ritual. I find myself utilizing it to express very true and real parts of myself. Why?

“Why would I utilize a perceived vehicle of the unauthentic to express the real?”

Don’t wait for the answer. I have no idea what it is. Although, I believe others share very real aspects of their lives too.  It is for this hope that I want to respect life, as we know it, on the web. I want to assume that any thought, photo, or feeling is potentially meaningful and significant. I don’t want  to be the person who eagerly dismisses another. Conversely, there is risk in believing everything you see. It can be the catalyst of disillusion, feelings of inadequacy, confusion, erroneous assessments, and false hope.  It can prevent me from engaging the very people I need to connect with, because somewhere along the way, I’ve decided based on 3 photos and 5 posts that we have nothing in common. That is what scares me.

So, let me say this: When functionality begins to drown out ceremony, experience, and connectivity: recalibrate. Instead of updating, make a date. With people. For real (insert coffee sip). 

I Remember Now

Buzz. 5:34 am. No, it’s not the alarm. It’s actually the CO2 monitor glowing red. Funny thing is, I was actually fully asleep at 5:34 am. It is time to get up although I am wondering if my sound sleep was a precursor to impending doom. Nah, it was a faulty battery. We’s good.

Alas, it is a Tuesday that feels like Monday. Because Monday was fun day instead of Sunday this week. We tried to summit Mt. Evans yesterday (via car, but who cares about details) and failed miserably. 40 mph gusts of wind blew me right off the top and into this week where I am twirling. Full on twirl.

The list:

1.  caffeinate

2.  pack lunches

3.  ask kids to get dressed

4.  begin the personal closet excavation and outfitting process

5.  defog bathroom after Steve’s 45 min shower

6.  ask kids to get dressed again with voice inflection

7.  Make breakfast

8.  tooth inspection.

9.  “I don’t know where your folder is !”(Take 15)

10.  Toothbrushing revision

11.  SHOVE FAMILY OUT OF DOOR

12. collapse on couch whilst chugging cup 1 (reheat version 3) of coffee

13.  Oh, Wait…I have to go to work. LIKE NOW.

Ah Hah!  Now, I remember. THIS is why I find it difficult to write.  I swear, I will bust out my camera again. I will be thoughtful again.  And, because I am committed (or at least hope to be) to the discipline of writing again, today we will just glimpse upon the fire drill that is my life. And, I suspect, yours too. Good luck and Godspeed, mamas! 

Just Write

The first line is painstaking.

Always. 

Of writing, that is, especially if you’ve not penned a thought in some time. Especially, if you want it to mean something. So, I usually just throw something completely lame out there to take the pressure off. Pressure. To write well. 

And so it seems I’ve been tiptoeing for the last 351 days, along the edge of an imaginery pressure cauldron.

Avoidance was precautionary. I’m plenty busy with other things. There are so many voices. Just another blog.

Nevertheless, it is the very thing  I love to do. For me. 

Interestingly enough, a friend said something to me yesterday, completely unrelated to this internal tug-of-war,

“Be careful what you share because few people care and most are just curious.”

Few people care. Most are curious.

So, why wouldn’t I write? Just for me. And as for curiosity, well, it really only killed a cat, I’m told.  In a sense, she talked me off the pot. No more squatting. 

And really… there is no pressure. Just write, Aimee. Just write. 

 

 

Parental Guidance Suggested

Could it be true that in many cases the very thing we seem least expert on, least equipped to discuss, or most overwhelmed by, is the one thing for which we need to give voice? It seems like an odd assertion, ignorant even, to some.  Yet, I dare say, that when an area of life is a battle, even if you feel among the weakest or most unknowledgeable, the commentary from that raw perspective may be of substance and even provide rescue to those hoping for greater insight.

I typically don’t talk on the issue of parenting. After all, I’m not very far along in the journey and, truth be told, have never felt more inept or overwhelmed in an area of life. I joke a lot with my friends, “I can work the boardroom, but am totally worked on the playground.”  It’s a joke only in part because there is a very real sense of angst and timidity when i think about my role as a parent.

Life is demanding. Children are intense. People are opinionated.

The experts are paid a lot of money to pen volumes on the how to’s of child rearing. I teeter constantly between loading up my bookshelves and throwing them all in the trash. It’s an industrious and profitable market. Yes, your kids are a market. Must it be so complicated?  What did we do with our children before all of the self-help?

And maybe it’s weighing heavy on me this week because I read the horrific account of a 12 year old girl jumping to her death because of bullying. My first thought wasn’t “where were her parents?” or “why?”. My only thought was “Oh My God…help us.”  HELP US.  Please help every family in America. I’ve observed the rhetoric around cyberbulling, which incidentally is current popular national topic, and I believe a foundational strategy and case building for more governmental oversight of web content and internet activities, but I digress. I’ve also observed the barage of remarks on schools, families, teachers, friends, bullies blasted about on Facebook and twitter.  Someone must be to blame. Judgement must be assigned. Understanding must be given.

But, some things we will never understand. Some things aren’t easily chalked off to the fault of another.

I was careful. Delicate in my discussion about this because I am a mother. Not a perfect mother. Not a super organized mother. Not always the most conscientious mother.  But, I am a mother who loves my kids. A love that often gives me a stomachache and sometimes keeps me up at night wondering if I’m giving them everything they need. A love that propels me to drive by their school often when I’m local,  just so I that I might catch a glimpse of them on the playground.  It’s a love that longs to understand them, works effortlessly to nurture, guide, support and provide for them in the very best ways I know how.  And, I was also a kid.  I was a kid with really awesome parents. But the will of the flesh is strong and despite their very best efforts to control and contain, to proctor and govern, Aimee did what Aimee wanted to do, at the expense of authority…many many times.  The only difference is the outcome for me didn’t end in death. The emotional torment at times was the same as any other kid. And, I imagine, so was yours.  All of these dynamics, I believe, are in constant force against one another and the weight of other external factors like friends, peer-pressure or pressure in a more complex and cruel form which we’ve named cyber-bullying are augmenting the struggle. I don’t have an answer. I’m not on a side. I’m simply saying, Let’s get real and talk about the tough stuff before a situation occurs and we cannot.

And, maybe it’s all of this that exacerbated the gut-wrenching and unnerving feeling that came over me when my own Owen went for some learning testing this week and the results were not what we had hoped for.  You begin to think about what these things mean. Are they even accurate? But, you don’t KNOW him. He is not a case study.  You want to make an evaluation and advise us on what his life will look like based on your 2 hour observation? Is that how this works?

The feelings of inadequacy intensified. The self-drill began. What did I do? What didn’t I do? What in the world? I should of read more books. I should have read HIM more books…in the womb, while drinking pre pregnancy brain stimulating drinks.  Maybe I should have let him watch Baby Einstein?  Classical music in the crib?

In this moment of bewilderment, I gaze at Owen. He is a bright-eyed boy with the biggest heart in the entire world. He is praying for kids in Africa, something he does routinely. Afterward, he offers his snack to Olivia. He looks up at me smiling, “Mom, you know what!? I did awesome on my test. I got them all right.” My eyes filled and I struggled to hold back the flood, “Yes, you did do awesome, baby. You ARE awesome.” He believes. And you know what? I believe in Owen.

I glance at my phone with 6 missed calls and 7 texts messages and think, nobody else could be more important at this moment. NO ONE. My mind shifts back the the headline story of the week. I fast forward 5 years from now, and I too wonder….

Parenting is not a job for sissies.  It’s also not a task for know-it-all’s. It’s a call. It’s partnership with God to steward his very best gifts.  It’s about being compassionate and needy. It’s about being as teachable personally as you expect your kids to be because we all have so much to learn. Parenting is not a topic for which we can afford to make cavalier comments on a social media status about the skill or mistakes of another.

I’m talking about it today because I need to. That is all. For me. For Owen and Olivia. And, perhaps for other folks who are scratching their heads after a  few years in the trenches and saying, God please….don’t let me screw this up.

I Write

It’s 5:58 am on Saturday. I suppose I could be sleeping, but I like to be among the first to greet the sun. It’s always been that way for me.  But, more importantly, this is my favorite time of day. It’s quiet…. well at least it will be for another 30 minutes or so.  To be able to hide away for a bit of writing is such an indulgence for me. To be able to breathe life into the series of thoughts that have paced the portals of my mind any given day is both a gift and a mystery. I’ve said it before, but when I sit at this keyboard, I rarely have any idea what I shall say. I wait a moment or two and usually the words pour through me.

We should all be doing a little of something we love, whether or not we feel proficient in it. There is something magical about awakening passion in your heart. It energizes the soul. I write not because I’m great at it, nor do I share because I’m a masterful communicator or expert in any content. I tell stories because my heart loves to connect with people and, deep down, I think we all have a desire for a sense of relatedness.  I’ve always enjoyed finding deep significance in ordinary moments. I look for life to teach me profound lessons in very simplistic circumstances. I treasure authenticity. I love truth and justice, but find myself leaning on the side of mercy so much more (perhaps because I’ve been the humble recipient of so much of it). I am always searching. My current aspiration? To be the type of person who a friend would think of when she wants a warm cup of coffee and someone to listen to her.

You’ll always get the real from me. I don’t embellish, although I’m often dramatic in content delivery. And yes, I put that in writing.

The Heart Connect

People ask me often, “How do you like Colorado?” The answer seems simple enough, and of course my response is always “Oh, we love it.” Then I walk away thinking, “they asked YOU”. Not Steve. Not the kids. Not about the church.  They asked you if you liked Colorado. This interaction is followed by further introspective analysis, a bit of which I will explore here.

Initially, I enjoyed Denver as a novelty. I love exploring the various neighborhoods. The landscape is clearly different from Florida, being 5000 feet above sea level and all.  The fact that I finally (and those who know me will understand the exasperation with which I deliver this sentiment) live in an urban center with massive city parks , a public rail system (not that I ever use it), and museums was almost more than I could handle. I discovered that the mile-high city is a haven for foodies. Yes, my epicuriousity heightened by neighborhood restaurants that actually operate from a farm to table perspective. How intriguing!  Early on, I found myself hiking and driving through mountains, breathing fresh air and drinking crystal clear water….from the tap.  Bad hair days and humidity became a distant memory and I felt like a new world had been unleashed. Freshly inspired, I picked up a pair of gardening gloves and traded my stilettos for Keens.  I was beginning to like Colorado.

It’s a relaxed kind of living. I find the people warm and endearing. We have wonderful neighbors. Neighbors who make organic honey to share, repair my son’s bike tire when it’s flat and cut fresh iris from their yard for me. Imagine that.  The pace is slower, the days a little longer and family time far more intentional. When things are unfamiliar, you cling to one another with a tighter grip. That, for us, has been wonderful.  Recently, I ordered a home delivery dairy service. They bring milk, eggs, cheese, etc to my house every week. Something sweet, old-fashioned and tremendously appealing to me about that.  I’ve decorated the house, made a few friends, and waltzed right into a new routine.  I guess you could say, Colorado is growing on me.

Even with all of this goodness, it hasn’t felt like home. This had, up until a few weeks ago, been a point of consternation for me.  I would wonder about it. We’ve been here 8 months. How long does it take to get comfy? After pondering this for the last couple of months, it came to me on my 2 hour work commute,  ” You really haven’t let your heart connect.”  That phrase whispered in my heart. What? Heart connect?  I thought,  “What do you mean? I’m committed!!! I’m here! I’m trying.” And I began to defend myself against myself. Ever done that? You know, the great internal debate?  But, it is true that your heart does not lie. Something in me had been holding a piece of Florida and my life there in cautious containment. Part of me was only reserving this present space in time for Colorado as a pilot program. I mean, we could always go back if it’s too hard, or too sad, or too lonely, or too risky. Right?  Yes, I had those thoughts. And yes, I was busted.

In this moment, I knew I had to surrender my whole heart to making this rocky mountain high my home. The quest for place to put down our roots began. I started to feel a twinge of excitement when thinking about a neighborhood, a house of our own, the people we would meet and a place to call home.  What will life look like this time next year?

Prayerfully, we selected a community. This week we purchased a home.  It’s 5 minutes from the kids’ school and  Steve’s office.  It’s a little east of the highway making an easy commute for me.  It’s lovely and right in every way.  I’m told my zucchini will do just fine there. We are building it, anticipating an early 2014 move in.  I am excited. Yes, I love Colorado.

 

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Enjoy?

I’m staring over this screen and into a half-full cup of coffee, wondering if I’ll actually finish either a blog post or the java before a clamoring call to arms begins.  Wait. Who am I kidding?  Actually, the morning fire drill began before I even poured the first cup.

Truth? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Something happened to me over my 4 week sabbatical from children this summer: I actually began to want to enjoy my kids. That may seem a little strange to say or even for one to admit.  You kind of get thrust into the parenting thing, you know? Every stage of infancy and childhood is so unique. I think it’s easy to focus on the deliverables that necessitate being a parent.  Feed them, cloth them, train them.  Teach them some social skills so they know how to engage people quite mannerly. Make sure they know a few cute tricks to entertain friends during chance meetings in the super market and more complex ones when invited to the neighbor’s BBQ.  Yes, focus on all the things that will prevent you from actually ruining your kid or emotionally wounding them early on. Give enough hugs, but don’t baby them. Focus on them, but don’t fixate.   DO NOT MESS UP THIS CAREFULLY ORCHESTRATED RECIPE FOR WELL-BEING.

And in all whipping up, I forgot that perhaps the most important thing I could hope for, pray for even, was the addition of a secret ingredient….desire.

A desire to enjoy my kids.

Enjoy.

Like the garden, or my husband on a spontaneous date night (when he tells me my dress looks like Lola, a swanky cantina in the Highlands, and sweeps me away for table side guacamole), or text marathon with my friends.  Could I actually ask God to give me a renewed want to for this thing called parenting?  Not because I’m the only mother they’ll ever have. Not because I’m obligated. Not because it’s what good parents do.

DESIRE.

 Love them because I want to. Be with them because it’s fun.

Interestingly enough, my joy has returned over unusual things, like drilling sight word flash cards, getting creamed in Candyland, selecting purple eyeglasses, swimming with a duck at the pool, employing two small tomato pickers in a backyard garden, shooting a rocket in the front yard, and learning new songs,

As find myself anticipating their stories and waiting for them to get home., I realize that they are inherently nurturing me and watching over me far more than I’ve known.   How is this possible? Surely at 5 & 6 they have no concept of designated roles and responsibilities. No,  their love is  expressed through hearts wide open and they too, have learned the simplicity of enjoyment.

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Authenpencity

February. February? That is the last time I stared at this screen? July. July? Yes, it is July. Just like that, five months have blown by me with little opportunity to record even a thought.  Coincidence? Not so much.  Sure, I considered it:  when my mother came to spend 3 weeks with us in March when Steve and enjoyed our first dinner alone since we moved here . Yes, a lovely dinner it was on my birthday. Writing crossed my mind when my girlfriends came to take me skiing, and again when the snow FINALLY melted. The screen beckoned still when Owen lost His first tooth, when we planted a garden, when Steve received a promotion at work, when Olivia attended her first sleepover, and as recently as last week…when I walked in the front door of my house and my heart whispered…you are home.

Yes, life has been a whirlwind, but in an amusement park  roller coaster adventure sort of way. With lots of twists and turns and even a few upside downs, we are racing through the course with our hands up high. I never really thought about it, but on a roller coaster you’re fat at the mercy of the vehicle, anticipating surprise,  and surrendered to every rickety advance. Even with your eyes closed and a scream of release, somehow you are smiling ,laughing and crying simultaneously. It’s crazy. And when it’s over, at least for me, you are completely conflicted between a “let’s do it again” and “Nope..that’s it.”

And so it has been with my life out west. Each day presents something unexpected and un-rehearsed. Even the most normal occurrence becomes extraordinary through seemingly small details.  I am back to writing because of a little nudge on the inside. One thing I know, there is a season to everything. I am stepping into a new season of expression with only two expectations in my heart….for my thoughts be genuinely expressed and for my pen to guided by an influence greater than me. A bit of authenpencity, I’d say, if you’ll indulge me a word creation.

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This shall be interesting.

The Hike

Since we’ve been out west , every day life has been full throttle.  As it turns out, we’ve had little time to really enjoy the beauty of Colorado.  Today we threw our hands up and said forget responsibility, chores, and other to-do tasks! Fuh-ghetta-bout-it.  B-Line to The Springs (as WE locals call it) for a date with nature! Oh, how I adore this place. Because my words will fail miserably to describe the splendor, I’ll leave you with some images instead.

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Godwinks

Last week was one of THOSE weeks.  To give you a sampling, my firstborn caught influenza A two days prior to my departure for a work trip to North Carolina.  Of course, our resident celebrity/socialite Olivia was selected to be Star Student of the week (which requires various extras like making an all-about-me poster, toting favorite books and toys to school, etc) and I had a week chalk full of training.  I realized that I was not handling the organized chaos as gracefully as I should when last Sunday evening, a very sick Owen had an accident on my new leather couch…my raw cowhide leather couch.  My, eat-on-this -sofa-and-die leather couch.  This incident catapulted me into a bit of a fit…not with Owen, but with Steve. It was the proverbial straw we reference that breaks said camel’s back.  In this case, the camel was crushed and I cried for two hours about everything from work stress to kid crisis to exhaustion to homesickness to…I won’t even.

The next day I pulled it together, hopped a flight to Raleigh, prayed for a miraculous evaporation of pee, and an expedient refueling to my personal tank of sanity.  As it turns out, the couch recovered and so did I. The family survived 3 days without me and when I returned I felt far more equipped to serve my family.  Amazing what 2 nights in a hotel, alone with God, a couple of uplifting books and some prayer will do.

By Friday, I’d forgotten all the whining I’d done to God about bringing me relief.  I’d recovered from the stain (which, I feel personally adds to the sofa’s fine patina), and caught up sleep. But God had not forgotten about me.  He’d not forgotten about the admission of loneliness …the homesickness…the exhaustion…the need for reprieve.  And around 2:00 I received a very unexpected phone call.

One of my very best friends had landed in Denver for work.  She would be staying the night and wanted to go to dinner. As you can imagine it took me .5 seconds to accept the invitation, for what would be wonderful time being silly and catching up on all of life’s craziness. Godwinks like these, remind me that He knows exactly what I need and He’s always on time.

He goes to great extremes to speak to our hearts in times of discouragement and struggle….even if it means flying your friend all the way from the east coast.

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And my star student…

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Do the Next Thing

This has been one of those weeks where I just have to enforce a personal code of  mandatory deep breaths. With work ramping up and learning so many new things, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  So, rather than to fixate on the comprehensive checklist and wondering how to accomplish it, I choose one thing, usually the easiest, and conquer that first. It’s sort of like the Dave Ramsey financial approach to domestic engineering.

Schools are getting more demanding, as is the workplace. People always want something from you. Someone always needs something that requires my participation to aid in the successful execution of their process. And then there are community causes, and church and wonderful outreaches–we all want to be a giver. I always have to find the balance…that my “give out” doesn’t cause me to “give up.”

You’ve been there, right?  I’m learning how to balance a lot of new responsibilities with not a lot of help. It’s very difficult.  It’s a lot of work. And, in a way acknowledging the tough things is part of the deep breath process for me.

It’s ok to wonder. It’s ok to take a break. It’s ok to say,

“Man, this is really hard.”

Steve told me recently, “Aimee you have your own basket of apples and people will never see or fully understand or relate to what’s in your basket because they only see what’s in theirs.” He’s right. We all have unique baskets with different fruit. I’m trying to manage my crop the best I can without comparing and without complaining.

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Bestowing Honor

For a few days now I’ve been pondering words I could share that would even begin to describe my friend– the special place he holds in the hearts of my family–the gifts that we’ve been fortunate to receive because of his willingness to serve. He is our worship leader at Livingstone Church and my dear friend.

To know Joshua is like crashing head on into a wave of truth tempered with compassion, generosity seasoned with sincerity, joy layered in goofiness (the kind that makes you laugh from your belly), and song that makes you want to give everything to Jesus.

Today, he is moving back to Lakeland and my heart needs a band-aid. We will miss him so much.  I, for one, appreciate his love for the Kingdom and willingness to give his whole heart.  I honor the spiritual gifts and reservoir of anointing that rests on the inside of him. See, it is those treasures, when shared, usher in the presence of the Lord and allow people to access heaven on earth. Leading worship is like being the hostess to a wonderful party…inviting people to table of the lamb…to feast of his Goodness, to dance in the graciousness of our God.  Josh truly did this for all of us every Sunday. I will always remember the way he looked a girl who had little confidence, an average voice and offered her an invitation to sing. She had no experience or formal training…just a love affair with Jesus. With that, he gave her a microphone.  He saw a gift. He fanned a flame.  He didn’t allow her to cower or sit on the back pew waiting for someone else to do her part.  He said, “We can do this.”  He held her hand, watching her take baby steps. And again, we see the heart of a servant leader. Josh doesn’t see people where they are. He has vision of where they are headed and encourages them in the journey.

Today, my prayer is that He will have a full supply of the spirit. What God has planted and rooted in him in this season will carry him into the next and that he will increase in every area of his life.  For I believe he is one the Proverbs describes, 

“the humble in spirit will receive honor.”

We love you Joshua.

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Swanky New Salon

One of the best parts of starting over is finding a new hair stylist.  And as salons go, I scored. Nestled in trendy Wash park neighborhood is BANG salon. Critically acclaimed and with cutting edge technique in color and cut, I felt like I was indulging in a celebrity experience. Over the course of 3 hours, I had 3 stylists coloring, cutting and shampooing my frock. Talk about Star treatment!!! A lot of fun and a new mainstay for me!

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