Friday, December 19, 2014

"Let every heart prepare Him room"

Advent, the season of preparing and waiting. We shove the busyness, anxiety, hurried activity, schedules, to-do's, must's, should's to the side. We let every heart prepare Him room. Or wait...that's how it's supposed to work. But perhaps you find yourself so bombarded by the joy, singing, gift-buying/wrapping/giving, decorating, baking, etc that peace is the last thing you feel in your heart. There is simply so much to do that it's increasingly harder to just be.

How do we open a heart to hope, love, and joy when our schedules are so full and we are sprinting from one place to another?

I do not have answers for you. I have answers for me. I finished classes and stepped into a month off from school. Freeeeeeedom! A month to work during the day and focus on other activities and people in the evenings or on the weekends. The time can easily fill and feel so the opposite of free if we aren't careful. I put up some decorations, but I did not go crazy. I was not willing to set aside multiple evenings to decorate when I could use the time to serve or spend time with people or read or otherwise take a little quality time for myself. I was not willing to strive for the perfect gifts for people. I had ideas of thoughtful gifts and ordered most online because I wanted to do other things with my time. I have spent a little time writing, here and elsewhere, because oh, my soul; it frees when I write. I chose several holiday concerts and programs to attend and deleted invitations to others. Priorities and boundaries are freeing. As a year winds down and activities wind up, I am compelled to rid my home of clutter. I have quite a pile of stuff in the car to go to Goodwill this weekend.

In other words, I have tried to be very intentional about what I am allowing to fill my time and space right now. I am choosing to not run around doing all of my chores and using my free time to cross all tasks off my to-do list. This is not old-Andrea. This is some new version of myself I have been surprised to welcome into my life. I give myself space and room to sit with my thoughts, utter some prayers, and stop the doing to allow the be-ing. This, to me, is how to savor the season. This is how I am getting myself out of the way and letting my heart prepare Him room. This is how I am choosing to wait in anticipation and celebration of our Joy.

I pray for you as the year closes, that your heart opens. I hope you, too, will determine your priorities and align your activities accordingly. I long for you to know peace, love, hope, and joy. Press on as we journey together through this messy, chaotic, beautiful life.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

words

Being on the interwebz like we are, it's easy for words and phrases to gain popularity and fill feeds. Some make you roll your eyes or just annoy. Some I will not use. That includes "food porn" or "beer porn" or "bookshelf porn" or something of the sort.

My rejection of these phrases does not come from a religious stance or that literally it does not make a lot of sense. Are there other definitions of that word? Nope. Or there weren't. My stance is such because using "porn" just to say you are showing food you like or something else you crave normalizes what porn is. 

Photos of food, drink, and book porn are supposed to tantalize, and they do. But I do not need to talk about them as suggestive meals or books I lust after. To me, calling pictures of gourmet entrees and desserts "food porn" usually gives others a chuckle and people nodding heads in strong agreement. But it desensitizes us to "porn" as a word, and I think a concept. It makes it okay, and I'm not okay with this.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Expressing our needs

"Granddaddy, I want you to pick me up from school one day!"

My six-year old nephew said this to my dad one day, though my dad lives nearly four hours away. My dad is fortunate enough to be retired and was able to pick him up from school yesterday. Dad was pretty excited about sneaking down to surprise my nephew in the car pool lane, and of course, my nephew was going to be elated to actually have his little wish come true. Granted, my dad actually does surprise us when he thinks of something fun. However, would he have known that the little guy really wanted to be picked up from school by his grandfather without the desire being voiced? How excited and ready was my dad to make a plan to meet that need!

I have a difficult time expressing my needs and desires to others, admitting that I have any at all. I have been talking about this with several people this week and told one person that during a certain life experience I did not want to seem needy. She said, "But...you had needs. And that's okay." Why can I say I have needs (when I can actually admit them) but not want to feel needy? A quote from the book our small group is reading this week "God came to you when all you had was need" was so good for me to read.

I am needy. I do not have everything on my own to thrive. I am not self-sufficient, though I try to desperately to be. I want to feel or seem in control. If I have learned anything over the past 8 or so years, it's that I have a lot of needs, desires, wants. If I have learned anything over the past couple of years, it's that I am stubborn and fearful and both make me want to stuff those needs, desires, and wants as far down as possible because if I put them out there, and they are not met or acknowledged, then my fears have come true.

Lately though, I am trying something new. I am trying to voice my needs. This is not because I have shirked my fear of unmet needs and desires, or that it's somehow any less vulnerable to put them out into the world. It's because I am learning that actually others who really care about me want to know how they can love, care for, and support me. They are like my dad, eager to meet his grandson's needs, desires, and wants. I'm learning to be a little more like my 6 year old nephew, who puts his great desires out into the world, anticipating the meeting of his needs and filling of his hopes and dreams...and learning how safe it is to voice our desires when we are secure in our identity and know we are loved.