Saturday, January 11, 2014

When Hibernation Gives Strength to Face the New Year

It's eleven days into the new year and my calendar is still blank. I am Hibernating and Pretending that nothing is calling my name. The empty boxes declare to me that each day is a new slate to spend the way I want. No one has pre-determined my course for the day. For the month. For the year.

The cold temps of this past week have contributed to the delinquency of catching up my calendar. Colder temperatures have visited Nashville this past week than they have in a couple of decades. This led to Cancellations and Delays, including my continued pretense that I live a non-busy life.

For the past two weeks, I have not been called hither and yon. I've stayed home since the family left-town. It was a beautiful holiday season twinged with sadness, tension, and beauty. Lots of beauty and gifts. Yet, the days following the holidays have been my favorite.

My husband had a few days off from work that we did not squander in travel but spent at home all together. The children rejoiced at just being home altogether with no place to go, no work projects to do. Instead we were just together. Sometimes playing a game. Sometimes reading. Sometimes doing our own creative thing.. We watched several movies. What a treat! We just hung out at home. Then, my husband returned to work, and the kids and I have gradually gotten back to our duties, too.

Due to the cold temps my usual activity whirlwind was suspended just enough longer to hunker down still for the second week of January. I had just enough social contact to keep me sane. Yet, the rest from swirling activities and trying to keep up and not miss anything has been a balm to my soul. It has been like taking a Great. Big. Deep. Breath. Can you hear my soul breathing a sigh of relief from there?

Usually, it is hard for me to stay home because I feel like I am missing out on something. I want to participate! I want to have fun! Therefore these cold-weather cancellations gave permission to plant my feet right here at home where I have wanted to be with no expectation from anyone in the Southern regions to move at all. Hiding and hibernation are exactly what everyone is doing. It's all the rage!

I couldn't find this more than fabulous even though I grew up in Minnesota where they didn't cancel for cold weather!?! Are you crazy? Life would be shut down for half of the year if they did that Up North. But here in the Southland, things shut down in the cold and snow. Or, at the very least slow down for just  a little while, because we can. We simply hunker down with the Southern Natives and wait a few days for it to thaw out. We always hope that our milk and bread supply is sufficient because snow forecasts cause a run on the grocery stores down here. The other great prayer to pray is for one's pipes NOT to  freeze! Insulation grades are not the same Down Here as they are Up There.

I've gladly taken these contributions to my Hibernation Mode. These few days of slowing down, cancellations, and lesser expectations. It's just what I've needed to face the blank slate of the New Year.

And as it warms up, I guess the ink will flow once again onto the January calendar. I can hide and pretend for only so long that the responsibilities, activities, and to-do lists are not yet calling my name.

Soon enough it will be time to write the upcoming events of our beautiful life on the calendar. But for now I tip my black snow hat and raise my cup of Chai tea to the cold. I will trust that this deep soul breath will help strengthen me for the days ahead as I head off into the whirlwind activity that will come in due time but not today. Not yet.
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How about you? How's the start of your January been?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The One Thing That I Miss From Crisis {day 19}

Balloons to say goodbye to Papa.
We lived in Crisis Mode for a year or so. Now, a few months removed from that season I find myself still missing One Thing from then. What?! Can that be? Did I just write that?

What is it that I miss? Daily visits to the hospital or the guilt if we didn't make it that day? Exhaustion to a degree I had never physically known?

No, none of that.

But I do miss the clarity of crisis. Crystal clear decision-making about what I needed to do.

Go to the hospital.
Feed the children.

That could be the entirety of my to-do list for a day. It would also take the entirety of my energy and focus. Or the list could be:

Take children to events so life seems more normal.
Or buy groceries. Just buy groceries today.

Unless, of course, a phone call came and set us spinning in another direction. I don't miss that. I don't miss not being able to plan. I don't miss the medical set-backs and unknowns. Yet somehow life seemed more free. There would be the times that I would just need to go home. Even if there were no groceries and  no plan for dinner. Home was what I needed that day. All six of us needed it.

I miss knowing with certainty that what I was doing -- whether it be a hospital visit or buying groceries -- it was what I was called to do that day. It is strange to think that during a time when I couldn't keep up with all the details of my life and would forget things such as my turn to bring snacks to choir and that during a time that I found it hard to smile that I actually miss something from that time.

I have pondered about this and wondered if there was a way to bring the Clarity of the Crisis Mode into every day. I certainly have not done a good job of this. There have been days when I've been paralyzed by the ideas and choices swirling around in my head, trying to decide what is best about things that don't really matter. 

Crisis Mode brought a clarity to the needs of the day. The urgent was the important. It was easy to be about the important, the eternal, when life hung in the balance.

Most days it is easy to get tossed about by urgent distractions that pull me away from what is really important. Yet, now I have discerned the key of the clarity in crisis: the urgent and the important were the same. This brings hope to my every day life.

If I can find the important -- whether or not it is urgent -- then I can again be about the important, eternal things in my corner of the world.

Even though there have been moments when I have been paralyzed by the swirling ideas and choices in my head, I have known even now in the months since Crisis has slowed down that I have been about important things. I have been about tending to the many things which were not tended to during the months of Crisis Distraction.

And so... these days I have been organizing my home, spending time with my children, focusing on my husband, reading my Bible, praying, writing, running, making food, and staying home.

While I long to reach out and connect some more with friendships that have been neglected during the last while, I trust that with time  I'll once again be able to look out beyond the realms of our home again.

Unless, of course, the phone rings again and sends us spinning in an altogether different direction.

Yet, for today, I am thankful for the cozy at-home day we had today.

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How about you? Have you ever been surprised by a longing for some aspect of a difficult time in your life? Join the conversation in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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This post continues my thoughts of ICU Lessons of Faith. As I write posts about the lessons of faith in My Clarence Chronicles Series, I will continue to number the days of my postings and list them on Day 1's Index Page. But I will also begin to spread my wings and begin to write of other things in this space, too.

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Join me at Jen's place for other women writing for His glory? I find it to be a place of encouragement, perhaps you will, too.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Top 5 Blog Posts in 2013

Well, well, well... another year has come to a close. In reflection and celebration, I am listing my top 5 Blog Posts that had the most views for 2013 that I actually wrote in 2013. All of them revolve around the health crisis event we experienced with my father-in-law essentially being in the ICU for four months. May they provide hope for the readers. Click on the titles of the post to read them.

 #5 Post: For Days We Feel Like Crying

May the words of this post encourage someone else so that they know that they are not alone. There are days when we all feel like crying.

Sometimes in this past year when I have felt like crying; I have wondered if it is left-over sadness that didn't have time to come out as tears when the crisis actually happened.

#4 Post: A Taste of Normal in a Sea of Unknowns

If your life has ever been turned upside down, perhaps you will enjoy this post as I explore how nice it felt one day in the ICU to see a bit of old normal in the topsy-turvy world of medical unknowns.

Learning to take the moment of peace when it is offered is a gift.

#3 Post: Stories of Faith from the ICU

In September of 2012, my father-in-law had a tumor removed from his brain stem that began a four-month journey in three different hospitals and one rehab unit.

That time marked our family. We learned deep lessons of submissions, prayer, neediness, and comfort.

This post is the index page for a series of posts that I wrote about the stories of faith that we learned during the season of my father-in-law being in the ICU.

My hope is to share the comfort that God gave us during a difficult time in an effort to encourage others for the trials that their weary hearts may be going through just as it says in II Corinthians 1:4, "so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

There is comfort. There is hope. At times, there is even laughter. Every story is different. The endings are not all the same, yet there is hope for every weary heart. Sometimes it's just a matter of finding it or believing it or both. 

#2 Post: Remembering the Right Things

After the crisis of my father-in-law being in the hospital for four months, he finally went to his own house. We began to experience some relief as he continued to improve. But it was a struggle to keep remembering how God had helped us in every moment.

Instead I was struggling with only remembering the hard stuff. I think some of that is normal to process the difficulties of an event after the fact especially because in the moment of crisis one is caught up with responding to the needs at hand but our souls need time to process the gravity of a situation. 

In this post, I spend time recounting a few of the memorable times of when people showed up and touched our hearts. Ultimately, that was God being kind even in the midst of sorrow and suffering

#1 Post: How looking outside my kitchen window taught me something about faith

Simple observations of the tree outside of my kitchen window taught me a lesson of faith. I shared it here. Not only was this my most viewed post that I wrote last year, it also had the most comments. That hasn't always been the case. I spent more time on this post than most. The response encourages me to spending more time writing and crafting each post. May your faith continue to grow in 2014. 

 Honorable mention:19 reasons I love my husband

I have added a bonus mention because my top-viewed post of all time was written in 2012 on our 19th anniversary. Honorable mention may be misleading since it has 10 times the views of my number one post of 2013. Hope you enjoy it. 

Happy New Year!
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