Live Slow

If you know me, you probably know that I have a little obsession with sloths. It began with some dear friends several years ago at a restaurant in Boston, and that’s all I’m gonna tell ya about that.

Since that time, I’ve collected a few sloth items. (I may have taken the obsession a little farther than my friends.) Among these sloth items is a sweatshirt from etsy that, adorned with a hanging sloth, says “Live Slow.” I love it! (Thanks mom.)

I wore this sweatshirt last week on a rainy day. My little guy and I met a friend for lunch at a local coffee shop. After lunch, we ran through the rain to the parking garage where my car was, planning to head down the road for our weekly Target excursion. I realized that the kiddo needed to eat, so instead of putting him in his car seat, I pulled him into the front seat with me and nursed him. Since he was over due for a nap, he quickly fell asleep. I knew he needed it, so I sat in the car for 1.5 hours and let him sleep in my arms, while I perused the interwebs on my iPhone. (What did we do before iPhones?!)

I looked down at my shirt. “Live slow.” I thought, “yep. I’m doing it.”

I then started contemplating the life of a sloth. The word slothful means “the quality or state of being lazy.” Sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins (whatever those are about…). But guys, sloths are not lazy or sinful (obviously, they are animals). They are exactly what they were created to be. They don’t run around wasting their energy on unimportant things. They do what matters, when it matters. It’s a slow life. But it’s a good life.

And I’m realizing, as I enter this phase of life, that I don’t want to be slothful, but I do want to be like a sloth. I want to do a few things that really matter and I want to do them really well. I do not want to waste my time running around doing unimportant things.

I’m not saying a fast paced life is a bad thing. I’ve had plenty of seasons that were really busy and fast paced, and needed to be. I may have more of them in the future. But for now, especially as a new mom… I feel personally compelled to learn from sloths, “live slow,” and do a few important things really well.

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^ a sloth we watched moving along when we were on our honeymoon in Costa Rica

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a love that overtakes me

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Almost 20 weeks ago now, this fellow came into the world and changed my life – forever. I became a mama and I fell in love in a way I could never have imagined. It’s a love that overtakes me when I’m beyond exhausted and my little dude wakes me up, again, needing some snuggles and a paci or a middle of the night snack. It’s a love that makes it so very natural (even though it’s so very hard) to sacrifice my own desires/needs and take care of his first. It’s a love that delights in every little thing that he does and every part of who he is. I’m smitten and there’s no amount of his scream crying or my sleep deprivation that could change that. It doesn’t matter that I’ve tried to write this post 5 different times and I always have to stop because my baby needs me. I miss having time to write and create different things, but I know it is just a season. I also know that when this season is over, I’ll miss the little baby cuddles more than I currently miss having a clean kitchen or sitting as long as I’d like in a coffee shop with my journal and a good book.

This love has taught me so much about my Jesus and the way He has forever loved me and you. My love for my baby is big, but it is so tiny in comparison. (People say these things all the time, but now I get it…)

This love has taught me that true sacrifice always flows from true love, and that you can’t have true love without true sacrifice. (I feel like I should have so much more to say about this, but I just can not find the words. Could be the sleep deprivation, could be that it’s just too big for words.)

Now, this sweet boy needs some attention… But hopefully, I’ll be back soon (even if I have to write on my iphone while nursing my boy, like now. The multitasking mama life.).

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a place of rootedness

Written 2/23/14

I’m sitting on the floor in the hall of our new house. My husband is doing some painting touch-ups in our son’s bedroom.

Those two sentences BLOW my mind.

I spent nearly 3 decades of my life husbandless and have had this amazing husband for 1 year and 4 months. I still am amazed that the Lord saw fit to bring us together, and make us one.

Now, this short time later, I’ve got a baby in my womb. [I think womb is a funny word and am determined to say it as much as possible while I have the excuse. You are welcome.] He will make his appearance into our world probably sometime between 3 and 4 months from now. That’s nuts. I have a child, a son. He’s making me huge, and kicking around at my insides this very moment. And I love him, though I don’t yet KNOW him.

And… we have a house! And it’s OURS [and the bank’s… but whatever].

When Jon and I got married, I moved into his apartment. So, we made space to fit me in and we/I changed and added to the décor to make it OURS and not just HIS. This feels so different than that. That was temporary and we constantly considered the temporal aspects of it. This feels like a HOME for our family to dwell in and to grow in, not forever, but for a good while.

This is a place of rootedness… and I think it’s a physical symptom of a spiritual reality.

Jon and I (separately and together) have never dreamed of being home-owners. In fact, we dreaded the thought. We’ve been mobile people who love the ability to get up and go when and where opportunities open up.  “Putting down roots” somewhere sounded lovely, but mostly for other people. When we began talking about the possibility of purchasing a home, it made us feel a bit claustrophobic. {Though I will admit, there has been a part of me that has always longed to settle somewhere.}

We also knew we didn’t want to stay in our two bedroom townhome apartment for too much longer and that buying a house made sense for us financially, much more so than renting a house would. I’m certain, however, that the reason home-ownership began to be less claustrophobia causing was actually spiritual.

Rootedness has been a theme in our lives and marriage. It’s not a rootedness in Nashville, and it’s not even a rootedness in each other. This rootedness is one that can only be in Christ and by Christ.

I know I don’t fully comprehend what He has done, is doing and will do, as our roots grow deep into Him. I know that a large part of it is happening through the Body He has placed us in here in Nashville. I guarantee you that if it wasn’t for the expression of Christ in our brothers and sisters here, we wouldn’t have bought this house and we probably wouldn’t be here at all.

It’s because of our local expression of the Body of Christ that we no longer feel claustrophobic in taking this step. I’d even go as far as to say that I am personally experiencing a deeper sense of Freedom as we take these steps, that once felt heavy and constraining.

Here’s to new seasons, and a beautiful Family to share them with. Happy 2014!

a dancing gummy bear

It’s been over two months since I posted here. In that time, I’ve also mostly disappeared from twitter and just basically been quiet. My mom has come to my blog to see if I’ve made an appearance, almost every day. I doubt anyone else has checked for updates nearly that frequently, but for anyone who has noticed my absence, HERE I AM!!! Sorry, I’ve kept you waiting.

At first, the lack of posting was due to putting more time into some other projects. Eventually though, I had to put those on the shelf for a few weeks too. I was tired. I started feeling nauseous off and on every day. I fell asleep at weird times, a lot. I spent a lot of time on the couch, drinking ginger-ale, and eating crackers.

It’s apparently a lot of work to grow a human being inside of you.

Yep. We’re having a baby, expected to arrive sometime around May 14th. Now that I’ve hit the 12 week mark (and I’m having to try to hide my growing stomach in pictures that may find their way to Facebook), we figured it was time to let everyone in the loop. :)

In the last couple of weeks, my energy level has been on the rise – heading more towards normal. [YAY! ] I’m not going to promise a sudden influx of writing here, but there’s a much better chance now that I’ll write again before another two months passes us by. We’ll see though…

For those who love this kind of thing, here’s a picture of our little person taken about 3 weeks ago – when it was the size of an olive. It’s now the size of a large plum, or so the books and apps tell me.

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Jon described her/him as a dancing gummy bear. It was very active, most of the time we were watching it – waving it’s little tiny arms around. (And yes, I called our baby an “it”… it’s just easier than saying him/her over and over.)

{For those of you who are overwhelmed by a constant baby announcements in your Facebook feed, I’ll do my best no to be too crazy about it…}

give up what is lesser; receive what is greater

I’ve started a pretty intense and consuming project. It’s exciting but has distracted my attention for the moment from the series I started (and will **fingers crossed** continue soon) here on Organic Church Life.

In the meantime, I’m in the gorgeous downtown library here in Nashville. It’s a favorite spot of mine and I’ll likely be here a lot these next few months.

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I was digging into some things today and read a quote that I found to be challenging and beautiful. I decided it was worth a quick share…

“The Lord, Yahweh, is not portrayed as a God that Abraham already worshiped. When he appears to Abram he does not give him a doctrinal statement or require rituals or issue demands; he makes an offer. Yahweh does not tell Abraham that he is the only God there is, and he does not ask him to stop worshiping whatever gods his family was worshiping. He does not tell him to get rid of his idols nor does he proclaim a coming Messiah or salvation. Instead, he says that he has something to give to Abraham if Abraham is willing to give up some things first.”

Walton, John H. 2000. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (p. 46) Inter Varsity Press.

The Lord chose Abraham, not because he’d been living a holy life devoted to the Most High God. He was an idol worshiper (see Joshua 24:2, 14).  But the Lord saw beyond the limits of time and space. He knew who Abraham (who was Abram at the time) was in Him. He knew who he’d be and what he’d walk into. He didn’t demand it all at once. He didn’t tell him much about himself. He knew Abraham would experience who Yahweh is, over time. In effect, He simply said, “I have great things for you, if you will walk away from the lesser things. Come. I’ll show you.”

This is what the Lord says to us today. He doesn’t hand us a list of does and don’ts, hammer us with statements of doctrine, or demand religious sacrifices or rituals. He simply asks that we give up what is lesser (our lives) to receive what is greater (His life).

Abraham’s story is a shadow of our reality, and it’s glorious.

“Did you go to church on Sunday?”

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently about a particular question that many Christians frequently ask or are asked, so I thought I’d bring the conversation here.

Have you ever asked or been asked: “Did you go to church on Sunday?”

It seems to me that we sometimes get in a habit of making this question a sort of thermometer by which to take each other’s spiritual temperature. If the answer is “yes, I did go…” we move on satisfied by a “healthy” response. If the answer is “No. I didn’t go.” We become concerned.

I have done this a lot over the years but I’ve come to think that it’s a pretty bogus spiritual thermometer. And while I do still ask the question every now and then, because I know people “go to church” on Sundays and it’s a conversation that can be legitimate, I come at it now from a different perspective. It’s almost a “How’s the weather there?” or a “What did you do this weekend?” sort of question. It tells me nothing about a person’s spiritual condition.

Here are a few quick reasons why:

1. The church is a people, not a building or a time of meeting. Assembling together is certainly important and valuable, but it doesn’t only happen on Sunday mornings or in church buildings so I don’t really think it’s a fair question.

2. There are a lot of people sitting in church buildings on Sundays who are there so they can say, “Yes, I went to church.” but they are really disconnected from the Body and from intimacy with the Lord. There are others who, for one reason or another, may not be there but are very connected with the Body and with the Lord.

3. Sometimes the Lord takes us through seasons of wilderness in order to accomplish His purposes in our lives. And, I know this is uncomfortable but, sometimes that might mean a season of “skipping church.”

I’m not saying we should not inquire about and be a part of our brothers and sisters spiritual lives. {I think that we should!} I’m just saying that I think there are better questions to ask and that understanding each other’s spiritual health is a whole lot more complicated than knowing whether or not we’re “going to church.”

What are some questions we could ask that dig deeper?

not as wasted time, but as an investment

The artist in me is being re-awakened, and awakened to NEW lifeSudden in ways, slow but sure in others.

I really believe that humans were created to create. We ARE creative beings. Really, it’s true. In one way or another, we’ve all got it in us. A reservoir of creativity is just waiting to be tapped into and expressed. It’s natural and it’s spiritual. {It’s probably MORE spiritual than natural – depending on how you look at it.} 

I’m learning many things as I allow this part of me to return to the surface, to come out and play.

Yesterday, I painted for several hours. I then removed almost all of the paint I had put on the canvas and painted over areas that I had painted previously so that I could re-paint them differently. I ended my painting session with less completed than when I started it. The weird part is that I felt successful by doing so.

I’d been frustrated with certain parts of this painting for a while. They just weren’t turning out the way that I wanted them to, but I didn’t actually know what I wanted them to be or how to find it. Over the course of painting yesterday, I stumbled on it. What I wanted started just spilling out of my paint brush and onto the canvas. It didn’t belong parts I’d already done. So, I removed most of the fresh paint and painted over some areas so that I could start fresh, now that I knew what I wanted to do.

This has happened to me numerous times, in numerous ways, with numerous paintings – and some writing too, for that matter. I’m learning that one step forward, two steps back is sometimes a uniquely beautiful and valuable part of the creative process.

I’m learning that the process doesn’t have to go smoothly, nor does it have to end perfectly, for it to be right and true and art.

I recently read that errors reveal themselves as valuable insights.

When I paint or write for hours and then I wipe off the canvas or wrinkle up the word filled page… I’m learning to view it not as wasted time, but as an investment —a time of exploring and shedding off what I’m not looking for, in order to find what I am looking for.

It boils down to grace. I’m learning to give my inner artist grace to be and to explore and to be perfectly imperfect. And that is spilling into the rest of my life. I feel FREE to be whatever it is I am, and to not try to be the things I am not, and to allow others to be whatever it is they are, without expecting them to be the things they are not.

 It’s rather delightful.