From mundane to majestic

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Four changes in thinking have transformed my life the past year. It’s been an incredible journey so far and I’m still growing and being challenged everyday by this arbitrary list of statements that encompass the last year of choosing to look at and think about life differently.

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Mundane is opportunity: rather than lamenting the seemingly dull moments in life, see every little boring detail as having opportunity in it – folding laundry, driving to and from work, doing dishes, raking leaves, answering emails. The opportunity to see beauty in creation, to talk to God, to worship, to sing, to think about friends you want to connect with, to turn work into play with kids.

No such thing as mundane. Mundane does not exist. Mundane is opportunity. There is no such thing as boring. It’s all about how you view your life. It’s all great stuff! (Joel Sartore, National Geographic photographer)

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Big ideas in small places: I read about this garden in Paris, Square du Vert-Galant, that feels massive when you’re inside, but is actually only 2/3 of an acre. The designer decided to make this tiny plot of land as beautiful and grand as possible; he ignored its natural limitations and went wild with creativity. Our lives are like gardens – we have the opportunity to grow and cultivate whatever we want in them. And no matter how small our day-to-day activities seem, we can make them as full and brimming with life and beauty as we imagine and dream up. The sky’s the limit!

Big ideas in small places is what the garden Square du Vert-Galant is all about. If you start to feel as if yours is a measly 2/3 acre life, remember nothing about you, your ideas, or your garden will never feel small again. (Vivian Swift, Gardens of Awe and Folly)

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Waking up and going to bed are a gift: It’s so cliché to say this, but it’s been a massive revelation. Rather than lamenting the rising and setting sun because of tiredness or boredom or frustration, embrace it because we only have the guarantee of today and today’s time is God’s expression of love towards us.

The daily round of sunrise and sunset, for example, that marks the coming and passing of each day, is no longer a symbol of human hopes. or of God’s majesty, but a grind, something we must grit our teeth to endure. Our busy schedules, and even urban architecture, which all to often deprives us of a sense of the sky, has diminished our capacity to marvel with the psalmist in the passage of time as an expression of God’s love for us and for all creation. (Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries)

to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

(Psalm 136:7-9)

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Change the lens: sometimes life requires us to zoom way out to see the big picture and gain some perspective, and sometimes it requires us to zoom way in to see the details and focus on what’s important and beautiful. Learning which lens to put on in which situation is the tricky part, but so worth the effort.

I needed to change the lens through which I viewed everything familiar. (Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project )

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Called to rest not crash

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When we rest, we’re able to take a snapshot of life as it is and see more clearly the forest from the trees.

After a week long holiday in the UK and then a week of settling back into the everyday rhythms of life, I’ve been thinking a lot about rest. For a long time I found myself crashing at the end of the day scrolling through my phone with the TV on in the background. I used to think this was a form of rest.

Traveling is an important and fun aspect of life. It’s healthy to remove oneself from work and everyday routines to rest and gain a fresh perspective. It’s equally important to include times of rest in the midst of our own schedules at home.

As our good shepherd, God gives us power and ability to lie down in green pastures, pause, be still, and rest. He also gives us everything we need in life to sustain us; he prepares a table of natural and spiritual sustenance and we don’t have to strive to survive. In fact, we get to enjoy God’s provision in the midst of and in spite of all the stresses and, sometimes, terrible situations happening around us.

The temptation in life is to wait to rest until a vacation or to replace rest with crashing on the couch in front of the TV. Neither of these are wrong; they just aren’t sustainable forms of rest in our lives. And I’m as guilty as anyone for doing both of these in place of rest!

Josh and I had numerous discussions about what our individual formula for rest is. We are all energized and refreshed by different activities. Figuring out what brings us rest and renews our souls takes some self reflection. What actions inspire you and provide you with time to reflect and fill you up with energy and fresh perspective? I’m talking about practical habits that restore our mind, will, and emotions.

My formula for rest is: reading novels + nature + time to organize

Josh’s formula for rest is: nature + art museums + creating for fun

Depending on personality, individual interests, and season in life, everyone has a different formula for rest. Maybe it’s gardening, painting, reading, walking, listening to uplifting music, cooking, the list could go on and on. The actions that produce peace and perspective are key to your formula for rest. Balance is so important. It’s easy to become extreme in one area, but we’re not called to be so reclusive we become isolated from others nor are we called to become so social we become isolated from ourselves.

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While in Bristol, England, we climbed to the top of a tower and saw a 360 degree view of the city. It was amazing. When we rest and allow our souls to be restored, we see our lives from a new and better perspective. Rather than continually being caught up in the hustle and bustle of work and routines, we see the bigger picture and can give better meaning to the everyday busyness and mundane.

Everything we do in life should come from a place of rest. It should and must be an intentional part of our lives. It’s so important to figure out a formula for rest and replace some of that time crashing on the couch with intentional times of rest.

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He provides a resting place for me in His luxury-love. (Psalm 23:2)

Keep her strong and confident

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Edie, today is International Women’s Day. I still remember the moment the ultrasound technician proudly announced, “you’re having a diva!” Your dad and I were so shocked we had her repeat herself, to which she said, “it’s a girl!”

“It’s a girl” was thrilling to me in every sense of the word. It was exhilarating, exciting, delightful, inspiring. It was scary, nerve-wracking, and mind-blowing. We expected a boy. We prepared for a boy. Now, a girl?

I desperately wanted a girl for so many reasons. I was also afraid. I was afraid to bring a girl into the world because of how the world has long mistreated women. Hear me right, when I say, “the world.” It’s just that for thousands of years we, women, were regarded as property or were relegated to a very specific role without choice or freedom.

International Women’s Day is one of those days full of meaning for some and empty for many. It’s a day fraught with political and social significance. I hope when you are my age it is less contentious and more embraced.

I want so much for you as a woman. From the moment you entered the world you had to fight for your first breath and first heartbeat. I desperately wanted to hold you, but had to let your hand holding my finger be enough while you were in the NICU incubator. Then I wanted to bring you home when I went home, but you had to be strong without me and I had to be strong without you. When you finally did come home, you fought for me. Fought so hard I gave in and wore you all-day, every-day for the first 6 months. You still fight for the things that matter to you. I hope you always do. My prayer is that you always fight for things that actually matter, not petty problems.

I want you to be strong in who you are, to be confident in your gifts, talents, strengths, and calling. I want you to be one of those girls and teenagers and women who strengthen and encourage other girls, teenagers, and women. That you are someone who helps everyone you meet to feel comfortable in their own skin. A woman who doesn’t judge or criticize, but empowers and encourages.

Every day I ask God for grace and wisdom to help you harness your strengths. Because every day, it feels like my strength and your strength could easily collide and combust. What I want is my strength and your strength to build something beautiful, something meaningful. When I watch your passion it inspires me to be passionate. When I see you dance and run and play it thrills my heart and I never want you to stop so I join in.

I’ve had my fair share of frustration and exhaustion because of your strength and you’re just shy of  2 years old. Someday, you will be the one frustrated and exhausted with me. So if I can selfishly ask one thing from you, please, have patience and pray for me when that day comes.

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