Saturday, November 12, 2016

Joy in the valley

The best way out is always through. -Robert Frost

I've been taking time for myself. Time to think and evaluate. I've been taking walks in the woods, enjoying every color fall creates, looking closely at gorgeous moss and lichen, feeling the chill on my cheeks and the sun on my hair. It is like a tangible way to feel God near, up next to me, on my skin. I hold deeply veined leaves of the sycamore, rub dock and smell its scent on my fingers, feel the prickly woolly worm crawl in the palm of my hand and it's like touching God's hand. 

I've ordered half-a-dozen books on nature identification because I find that learning about God's creation makes my heart happy. Seeing the beauty He creates and sustains, the beauty even out of dying things, reminds me of His powerful way of making all things new. There is nothing that escapes Him and neither do I.

I'm in this season of lingering and searching for I don't even know what. Searching for healing, searching for the way to forgive, for the path to be free of baggage. My shoulders physically ache from the weariness I carry. There are days when all I want to do is just be rid of my weariness but it's not simply all in the choosing.

I'm learning to be okay with not being okay which I think is freeing and helps to actually just be here. This season is what it is and try as I might to change it or rush it, I cannot. So I'm learning to find the beauty in this valley, learning that gratitude can be found in rich abundance here, learning that I can have everything I need each day because my Father is a generous giver when it comes to meeting needs, to soothing this soul weariness.

I find myself evaluating the things that require my energy. What can I eliminate from draining my limited resources of emotional, physical and mental energy. How can I carve out space and time to deal with my jam packed thoughts and emotions? I get the same amount of hours in a day, days in a week as everyone else and these past weeks I've been evaluating how I can take control of my life in a way to promote healing and joy. Sometimes instead of fretting over life not being in my control, I need to remember this is my life and I do get to build it in ways that I choose.

In my quest to be intentional with my time I've taken the plunge to close my Facebook. Months ago, I deleted the app and that helped silence some of the distraction it created. I heard Sarah, at Sarah Ann online say, (paraphrased) "If a social media platform doesn't make you happy then don't do it, you have control over where you invest your time." I confess, these words have been on repeat for months before I finally mustered up the courage to cut ties with Facebook. It was such a hard call, because there are many great advantages about FB and I didn't want to give them all up but in recent days it has made more and more sense that I need the time and energy Facebook stole from me on a daily basis. 

I didn't love Facebook, it didn't bring me joy, it felt like a "have-to". I have so many have to's and Facebook need not be one of them. This is just where I'm at in life right now, I understand all the positives of Facebook and I'm still trying to figure out how I can maintain those connections without FB. The bottom line is, I am in a place in life now where I need to invest in the things I love, that bring me joy and healing. It is exciting to think of new ways to invest that time.

"The difference between shallow happiness and a deep, sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives, happiness dies. It can't stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief. Joy, by the grace of God, is the transfiguration of suffering into endurance, and of endurance into character, and of character into hope--and the hope that has become our joy does not (as happiness must for those who depend up on it) disappoint us." -Walter Wangerin Jr.

I'm asking myself what brings me joy, what makes me love this life I'm living? And then I'm asking how can I allow myself the grace to invest the time in myself by investing in the things and people that bring me joy.

Some of the answers have surprised me. This self exploration is very life giving to my weariness.
Our annual pumpkin patch trip with all my punkins, brings me joy. Laynee clapping and squealing watching her siblings and Mamma fly down the slide. Her hair matching the pumpkins. 7 kids lined in a row, gathering pumpkins they can hardly carry. Joy!
Hazel Joy, wided-eyed, rosy-cheeked, sleeping-lashes, in-Daddy's-arms, legs-kicking, brings me joy. Big grins at Laynee as she sings Hazel her sing-song version of "Happy Birthday". "Happy to you, Happy to you, Happy to Hazel."
My children outside, gathering, washing, cracking hickory nuts. Outside building pretend helicopters and toy guns from PVC pipes. Outside pushing Laynee in the wheelbarrow, coming in with runny noses, nippy cheeks and dirty hands.
Anne's latest people drawings. 
The way she describes crying as, "I have something making sad in my eye."
Realizing Anne wore 15 brand new colorful hair ties on her wrist to church and later telling me she gave them away to her friends in her Sunday School class.
Brady asking,"What does an ostrich eat? They must eat healthy stuff cuz their eggs are HUuge!!"
Overhearing Brady and Anne playing Mom and Dad, "Mom!! It's time for me to go to college! I'm 91! It's time for me to go to college!!" Brady said.
Most surprising of all joy in homeschooling, thank you Jesus! Joy in teatime with the kids. Joy in reading aloud, gathering nature and drawing nature.
And least surprising of all, joy in this man who loves me in my valley. Who tells me I am enough, who listens to me ramble about the hard things in life and feeling lost as to how to get out of this weary place, ramble on about Walter Wangerin Jr. quotes and my quest to make space for the things I love. He hurts with me, cheers me on everyday and most of all hugs so tight it takes my breath away.

Even when it feels like I'm camped out in the valley indefinitely, when this heart of mine has deep wounds and I don't know how to fix them, there is joy. I hear God whisper and remind me, "Miranda, I am the binder of wounds." I believe those words.

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