Friday, February 19, 2016

So What Happens Next?

How do you know you're doing the thing you were meant to do?

This is a question I ask myself frequently. As I've moved from one stage of life to the next, it's been clear...until now. I wonder how many others feel the same?

Early in life you transition from one stage to the next by traditions, expectations, personal desires, and need. Fear and her co-horts of the hows and whys do not occupy a large of the brain. The next thing seems natural and the destination is one you can grasp.

The years in the next life, the ones I call the empty nest, are not as obvious. Bodily changes, housing changes, social and emotional changes, crouch at your door. These years are filled with transition as you grapple with the fact that life is finite. You want to squeeze every last ounce of joy and fulfillment out of each day.

This is the place I find myself. My life was predictable and fulfilling...and then it wasn't. I am a homemaker, momma to two beautiful children, a wife to one. The children flew the nest and left me without a daily routine that was familiar. My years were spent as many of yours are the car shuttling children to this and that, in the classroom, overseeing homework, pulling out my hair with discipline issues, on my knees, proms and soccer games, and a million other little things of insignificance. Very little, if any, time was spent on myself.

In the corner recesses of my mind though, there is the me, before life became about everyone else. Who is she, and what does she have to offer the world and her family?

There are many things I want to do. My creative side has its own vision of these remaining years, but my practical side has issues. What to do is the question that looms large and uncertain.

"These are the best of times and the worst of times..." Isn't that the way life is?

The one thing I know for sure is that God knows the plan He has for me. He knows my heart, He knows my gifts, my strengths, my weaknesses. And He will work it all for my good and His glory, because I love Him and trust Him.

As I seek Him, He will reveal one detail at a time when He's ready and not a minute before. He is faithful to care for me now as He did then. These years need not be wasted. I can face them with joy because of who He is.

Life transitions shouldn't be something to fear or dread. I'm in the place of great expectation. The next few years are uncertain at this point, but as I test the waters of creativity, I'm excited about the journey. He will hold me in the palm of His hand as I go and that's good enough for me.

Do you struggle with the big picture of life or are you a detail person? What are your hopes and dreams as you approach these in between years? I'd love to know I'm not alone in my thoughts. How has God directed you into a place of peace as the years roll along? Do tell in the comments. We can learn much from one another.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

How to Survive the Winter Months

Winter is not my favorite season of the year. I'll say that and get it out of the way. However, "there truly is a time for everything under the sun," as Solomon wrote in the Old Testament of the Bible. Surviving, and even thriving, during this time of the year can happen if you bring some intentionality to your daily life.

Here are a few of my recent activities that have brought joy to my gray skies:

1. Cooking and baking

There are many things about cooking that breed procrastination, dread, and frustration. Time, menu planning, shopping, and pleasing your diners are just a few. However, I've changed my attitude and it's made all the difference. Winter is the perfect time for comfort food during the many events surrounding the holidays, sports events and family gatherings. It's a great time to snuggle up to a roaring fire and peruse your favorite cookbooks. I love feeding people. I love meeting a physical need as well as providing a satisfying experience of fellowship around the table. Good food and conversation just go together.

2. Going to the library

As I've written before, my hometown didn't have a library when I was growing up. The bookmobile visited every two weeks and I was a regular customer. Libraries hold a special place in my heart, and they're completely free of charge. There's a world of discovery at your fingertips waiting for you at the local library. Movies, books, magazines, and newspapers await your pleasure. It's an excellent place to while away an hour or two...or four.

3. Cleaning, organizing, and decluttering

Call me crazy but I love this more than the average person. It's in my gene pool, I can't help it. If you could peer into the homes of my relatives, we all have this in common. We have the most fun sharing about our OCD tendencies with cleaning. Don't misunderstand me, my home is lived in and I want people to be comfortable more than anything. I just love a clean, uncluttered environment and the feeling of a day's work leaves me satisfied and complete.

4. Movie nights

This one is a stretch for me. I don't watch television except for Downton Abbey. This winter I've been watching classic movies checked out from the library. Again, completely free and a great way to spend a snowy afternoon or evening.

5. Coffee dates

This one speaks for itself. Good friends, good coffee and great conversation. Enough said.

6. Celebrations

This one is special to me. Both my children are adopted and we celebrate their coming home days. We call it their "Special Day." Each year is marked by a family dinner where we recall the miracle of adoption. I never want to forget the two happiest days of my life.

7. Visiting family

My birthplace and home of origin is in West Virginia. My family has dwindled to a few cousins and two aunts, one on my mom's side and the other, my dad's sister. I don't go home much but my heart will always reside in the hills of West Virginia. Winter is a slower season for me and I try to visit during this time. My people are the first ones who had an impact on me and know my roots. We share memories of a time in my life that remind me of who I am, where I've been, and how much I'm loved.

Well, this is my list. What do you do to survive and thrive in this season of life? Please share in the comments. New ideas are welcomed since we have a couple of months before spring arrives. I'd love to hear how you bring joy to your everyday routine.