Pulverized

Reflecting on joy, contentment and cultivating Mindfulness. 

You know that feeling when life gets out the meat hammer and goes to town on your schedule, friendships, children, attitude, health and general exsistence? It’s been one of those weeks. Finding strength and encouragement despite your new, flattened state can be particularly challenging. Recently I’ve been spending time looking at scripture and reflecting on what it means to maintain joy and contentment despite the events of each day. Timely topic for reflection apparently! 

Overcoming the emotions and gut reactions that accompany daily disruptions is the true test. How is this achieved? Take a moment to pause and step outside of your thoughts and feelings. I imagine it looks like one of the beginning scenes from Dr. Strange where time slows and you see his spiritual form being thrust out of his physical form. You mentally pause the situation, look around and try to identify the true source of angst. Then work on diffusing that instead of escalating the situation by adding to the fire with more words. The more popular term for this is Mindfulness. 

Mindfulness takes time and practice to master. Breaking the emotional heatwave is the first step. I found myself, while in the middle of a toddler’s tantrum, making up a song about how I was going to be patient. My daughter found the high notes particularly amusing. Prayer is another useful tool. Talking through the situation with God mentally or verbally helps bring calm. Not only will you have spiritual reinforcements, the Holy Spirit helps reroute your mental attitude. Avoiding cellular devices is another positive choice when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed. Instead of jumping on social media or losing yourself in browsing take the moment to work on your mindfulness. Diffuse, reflect and look for ways to overcome the same struggles in the future. Think of it as emotional detoxing. 

I look anxiously forward to the weekend and a cup of espresso as soon as my teething toddler relinquishes my lap. Offering words of comfort to his disciples, Jesus reminds us in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Overcome. He did and so can you. 

I Survived My Calendar…Barely

The title of this blog post is how I feel about 2016 as we approach its closure. I did get to travel some, but the majority of my time was spent helping my husband progress through his degree while I maintained life and relationships. There have been plenty of days where I’ve been frustrated. Yet, as I watch my little girl grow, I am deeply reminded of how quickly time passes even when it feels like I’m moving through a week at the speed of molasses.

Some days I find myself staring in the mirror and thinking how I strived to achieve this place in life, but it is definitely not how I envisioned it. Outside influences effect every aspect of our lives, which make it easy to doubt our purpose, direction and choices. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who guides my heart and mind in these moments of self analysis. It’s easy to let discouragement creep in and cause feelings of doubt and regret, but it is important to remember that the best things in life often require the most work.

Romans 8 is a wonderful reminder of the Spirit at work within us. I encourage you to read the whole chapter. Here is a little excerpt,

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:24-28

I so often read Romans 8:28 and think about how things will work out according to my definition of good. They mostly don’t, but I am ok with that because God has a way of things working out so much better. It is mostly little things that I see coming together after the worst of the storm has passed. As I am clinging tight to my life raft, the clouds begin to clear and I can see shore, a check comes in the mail from an escrow overage that covers the new tires for the car or a friend drops by with an unexpected gift that is a reminder of how much my friendship is appreciated.

There are no doubt plenty of challenges ahead in 2017, but it is also a year of possibility. “For who hopes for what he sees?” May you have hope and patience in the year to come.

In the Quiet

As much as I love my husband and my baby, I am often running on fumes. The thought of sleeping through the night without baby or my mind keeping me up seems as luxurious as a weekend at a 4 star hotel. If the ability to pause time was something I could buy on Amazon I would be ordering an extra large dose so that I could sleep, clean, sleep more and then sit and stare into nothingness with a caramel macchiato.

Every season in life has its challenges and glories that no other point in life will be able to replicate. All too often I find myself comparing this season to other people in my sphere and must remind myself that every journey is unique. No one experiences the same challenges or triumphs exactly as I do, it is the Krista expedition. A special pact between me and God with a few, key supporting characters and a lot of other people that I get to encounter along the way.

In the moments where my temper flairs, my feelings are pulverized, my attitude is a sack of rotten potatoes and the desire to keep moving forward is buried deep in a bowl of Haagen-Dazs double chocolate ice cream, its that still, small voice that gets me back up.

1 Kings 19:11-13 tells a story of the great prophet Elijah.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Other translations end verse 13 with, what are you doing here? In the midst of life’s chaos, what are you doing here Krista? It takes faith and commitment to survive life’s chaos. I am comforted knowing that God is there through it all, but especially in the quite. He gently directs my heart and confirms that it is all worth it.

A Distant Blessing

Writing for me has always been a form of therapy. There is something satisfying about turning all of my swirling thoughts into a tangible work. I started this year with a goal of writing something once per month. Why I thought this was likely to happen, I really don’t know. I may have left my daily office job for bibs and diapers but my amount of free time has anything but increased. Life with a 6 month old baby and 1 year old puppy is in constant motion with little sleep. I foresee my midlife crises being the need for an amazing bed and sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.

At some point in my recent hours of half consciousness a phrase came to my mind – a distant blessing. I have no other words to describe this current phase of my life, especially as I often find myself falling asleep while sitting still. Yet, so often these three words fit points in life. It the difficult moments it can be hard to keep our situations in perspective. Distant blessings can seem much too illusive and distant to emotionally hold on to. As we push on through the struggle, I think it’s our past successes that remind us of the triumph or just plain relief that lies ahead. God thoughtfully gave us the gift of memory to encourage and inspire us on to victory.

As Ecclesiastes 3 says, to everything there is a season. I look forward to future joys and know that without the trying moments I would not enjoy the happy ones near as much.

Perspective

Sometimes in life we have so much emotion we cannot express ourselves. Today I find myself staring at yet another dead end. Finding the motivation to pick myself up and head back up the trail in pursuit of success is becoming more difficult with each passing day. I lament to myself that all I want is for a door to open, for the opportunity to grasp onto normalcy again. If I speak honestly though, I realize that my heart desires a specific lifestyle. My mind is focused on my mental picture of normalcy and perfection.

In this moment I must ask myself what am I truly asking for? What is it that I am refusing to compromise over? It is not wrong to want to avoid struggle and strife. It is not wrong to desire for release from worry. It is not wrong to desire more than just enough financially. However, if these things become more important than my faith, then I fear sin has won the day.

The weight of paying bills is daunting and I cringe every time I open the mailbox. Yet, I am given small reminders of my inward focus. I look at my perfect baby girl and then I read a story of a young child who lost her arm to cancer. I wake in the morning frustrated at another day of leftovers and then I hear of refugees starving in their plight for freedom. I become impatient with my husband and then I see the uniform hanging in his closet and think of all the wives currently counting down the days until the deployment is over.

Life is difficult, unfair, frustrating, discouraging and heartbreaking but it is also a gift. Perspective changes everything.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.