A Summer Reading

bittersweet

A few months back on a train ride home from D.C., I finished the book “Bittersweet,” by Shauna Niequist. I highly recommend reading it. Each chapter challenged me to the core. What an amazing writer.

One particular section focused on deciding what we will and will not do in life. So I made a list. As this list materialized, things were pretty lopsided. I saw that I basically take on every committee, outing or activity that comes my way. In itself, it’s of course not a bad thing. I love work, church, my friends and all the other things on that list. I realized that this busyness was taking me away from my family.  Getting to know my girls and show them how to love is right about up there as one of the upmost important things in my life. Being so busy, we were together most of the time. But they need me fully present not just there.

As a little girl, I remember always wanting to be with my family. I simply wanted to spend time with my Dad, Mom and Nanny. (My grandmother lived with us until I was 15). Riding in the truck with my Dad going to his job sights and eating off the food trucks was the best. I actually loved the regular Saturday room cleaning days with my grandmother. We would fold every drawer and clean the closet until it was organized. Each shelf was dusted with joy as I did it with her. I tried to be with my mom every second I was able to. I loved sitting with her.

If I think about it that way, I feel like I have been missed the boat a little as a parent. I spend so much time organizing activities for them instead of just being with them.

The girls loved having us coach soccer. Our favorite days are now spent watering the flowers wishing the kids were wearing bathing suits because they are covered in water.  I love our neighborhood because all we do is hang out in the driveway. Someone will be out soon to play or chat with.

I am not saying at all that I regret for a second anything I’ve invested my time in. I enjoyed teaching my students and my career. I am so thankful for each moment teaching those kiddos new things. I love studying Special Education and working with a team that supports our local schools. All of that is a big part of who I am too.

I love Thursday nights at church with our women’s groups at Willowdale. I need time for me. Reading about Jesus and learning to serve Him is one of the best parts of my week. Praying and reflecting keeps me very grounded. For five weeks, we actually studied about this very topic. Creating margin in your life. It is such a gift. One we often forget that God spent the seventh day creating it.

I really needed to learn to make space for what was important. I can’t tell you exactly what I started saying no to. But I do feel so invested in the life of my family. I made a list of their favorite things my kids like to do while I was on that train a few months back. It’s so easy to make them happy. Ice cream, nail polish, soccer balls, books and tickle fights.

I am blessed. I can’t think of a better time to embrace this. Bring it on summer. I am going to soak up each moment.

 

P.S. Please still invite me for wine and coffee. I still really need that time with you too!

Living with purpose

Living with purpose. Created for a reason. Chosen to be a wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend. These ideas have been swirling in my mind.

Most days I wake up and complete my daily routines. Coffee, reading, making lunches, getting ready, work, cleaning, playing, dinner, homework, bedtime with my babies and lounging with my man. Sure, throw in a soccer practice, piano lessons, Bible study or a coffee date but honestly, I’m pretty darn predictable.

This past Sunday as I listened to my pastor talk about being chosen. I realized that we all have been chosen for a purpose. When God created this beautiful creation, He had me in mind. I love that. I have meaning, even on those days when everything goes wrong. I spend so much time in the predictability that I often forget the important piece of living with purpose for what I have been called to do.

I was chosen to be Jeremy’s wife. What an honor to be loved by this gentle, funny, loving man. We were chosen to raise two sweet little girls together and show them how to live out their life with purpose. Would I ever teach them to live predictable lives with the same routine without thinking through what their greater purpose might be? Never would that cross my mind.

If that is unacceptable for me to teach my children, why am I sometimes completely satisfied with living life without the focus as to what I am here for?

Lately I have been asking God to show me what He wants for me in the next few years. I love where I am at in life. There is no better place than at home with my family. Working and supporting individuals with disabilities teaches me something new every single day. Promoting awareness on mental health and speaking as an advocate has turned my shame into peace. Soon I’ll be diving into the graduate world of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. All of this has purpose. I don’t know what direction He will take me in but I know that is not for me to decide. This is God’s work that I have been honored to carry out for Him.

Let me clarify. I enjoy my routines. I think we all need them. They just can’t drive us to forget that we each have something to give to the world around us. We all are gifted differently with unique talents that create a beautiful masterpiece when we work in harmony. Your smile and hello may be the only one a stranger sees all week. It’s not always the big stuff but in the little things we do as well.

Veenema-47Each season of life may present something different. Sometimes our plate is full and joyful. Other times we may be riding on the back of a friend because our load is too big too carry. Wherever yours may be right now, I hope you find peace knowing that you have meaning. Don’t go through life thinking that your routine is meaningless. It may be in the everyday that your life brings purpose to another.