Yesterday I ran outside because I literally didn't know what to do with myself.
I was completley overwhelmed. With work as a teacher starting up next week, Adela's baptism on Sunday, and some projects that I promised would get done before summer ended ... I just didn't know where to start. I had a horrible sinking feeling that I wouldn't get it all done at all.
So, I ran outside with my socked feet stuffed into my thong sandals (I don't know why I do that) and walked up and down the drive way. I prayed and cried and asked God to please just write down a list of what He wanted from me so that I could stop being confused and disappointed in myself all the time.
All the time.
Because at the end of the day, the list felt like a big fat sign that I had messed up. That I had messed up the summer. Maybe I was doing all the wrong things. Maybe I wasn't on the right track. Maybe my family wasn't on the right track. Maybe I wasn't what and who I was supposed to be and needed to trim corners of my heart to fill the space that others expected of me.
My eyes lifted to the sky and I finally saw the approaching storm, the warm moist wind filling my face and nose.
I love storms. It feels like watching a force of God approach, full of power and promise.
So I sat on an old blue tractor and wiped tears from my face.
A bird, a simple barn swallow, flew in front of me and perched on the power lines. "Look at the birds. They do not plant or harvest or store food in barns and your Heavenly Father feeds them." Matthew 6:26. I stared at the bird. It didn't need to worry and God promised me that I was more valuable that it. That silly little barn swallow.
That barn swallow also didn't need to be anything but himself. He just had to be. To live.
"Oh, God," I breathed. "Me, too?"
He whispered back into my soul. Yes, you, too, Lora. You just need to be.
The fog, confusion, and fear cleared. I smiled. I even felt a little foolish.
I am me.
I have a ridiculous passion to improve things, to teach, to watch people grow, to figure out systems, to find the fullness in life every breath of my life.
Oh, goodness, how I suddenly loved that bird. It isn't a smart creature and it isn't worried about it. The more it trusts God the more it rests in God's bounty and provision.
I rose from the tractor when the wind gusted up, the sand pushing me back to the house and my list. I am me. God created me for His purposes. I just need to enjoy the ride, the placement of my soul in the wide tapestry of His love story.
Where in your life do you feel you need to stop striving and just be you?
I was puttinig Adela to bed and she had a thousand words. I tucked a few strands of dark brown hair behind her ear and marveled at the sparkle in her eyes as she told me about the most important part of her day: digging up irrigation leaks with her papa.
The laughter was hard to hold in, I could feel it bubbling up at the base of my chest. She was full of conversation about worms and frogs and gophers, repeating a dozen things she had learned and expressing her fascinations with the process.
And I was so thankful.
It had been one of those days when I had felt exhausted and preoccupied. There had been a lot of phone calls to make and decisions requiring thought. I had felt like a truly terrible mom. I had been so emotionally and mentally unavailable to the girls.
Eventually we said our prayers, sang our songs, and turned out the lights. I walked away and was so thankful for the way God provided love and connection to our active little girl through the simple act of working with her father. It also made me pause.
We really don't have to recreate or construct perfect experiences for our children, we just need to include them in life. Life is already part of the interesting and complex. Life is already full. But so often we feel the need to occupy our children elsewhere while we get life done. As if they need to be compartmentalized into another part of our world.
Now, I'm not saying that I should have put the phone on speaker while I called doctors and dentists that day and let Adela be part of the decisions being made, but there are more opportunities than I realize to include the girls in my life and in my world. There are conversations to be had over folding laundry. There is laughter to be heard as we squish pizza dough. There are plenty of ways that we can be seen and heard.
This realization is such a relief. Connecting with my girls can often feel like another chore, another expectation that is sometimes not met. However, when I invite them into my world and my life, the connection can me more real and deep than the reconstructed moments that are squeezed into a busy schedule.
Thank you, God, for showing me that it never was that complicated. Relationships are about sharing our life with others, including them in our world.
Where do you feel yourself trying to compartmentalize your life instead of inviting the people you love into it?
I pride myself on really knowing my family. I also pride myself on feeling connected to God often as I go through life, but our recent family vacation proved me wrong in the most beautiful way.
Today we're back home with a happy glow to our browner-than-before skin. A couple weeks ago, Jovani and I were gifted five days away at a cabin at Munds Park, AZ. We spent a lot of time outside and laughing. After years of parenting our girls, this is the first time that Micaela's health and the responsibilities of farming and ranching have allowed us to pack up and leave for a family vacation.
I had no idea how powerful this experience would be.
That first morning, we loaded the girls into the truck with the camper in the back full of fishing poles and sandwiches. The mountain air was crisp and clean, giving me that same feeling of climbing between fresh sheets on the bed--restful and waiting. My heart flopped and I made myself open my heart and mind to the possibilities of the morning. I had no idea how the girls would react to a lake fishing adventure but I knew that they were happy and excited and that my husband, Jovani was relaxed and thankful for a break and time with his girls. So, I let the worries about how Micaela would act and agreed that beyond sunscreen and bug spray, I needed to let my heart fill with peace and my mind stop planning out every minute.
As we reached the lake, we began to unload chairs and poles. I held Micaela's hand. The struggling began. She didn't know what she wanted or how to react to everything. She is a fighter and the moment she feels pushed or unsafe, she reacts with resistance and determination to remain as independent as possible. By the time we reached the shore, I was sweaty and frustrated and looking at my watch, calculating how long I really needed to put time in before retreating to the cabin and the sanity of toys and quiet.
Jovani began to prepare poles and Adela cast her first line out into the water. Baby mud hens chirped nearby, their parents hunting and feeding with industrious fury. Micaela, determined to join them, immediately waded into the lake. Distracted by the mud hens, I didn't catch her until her shoes and braces were soaked beyond redemption.
Great. Five minutes and my worst nightmares had been realized.
I began to pray. Just pray for a way to make it through some hours so that Adela and Jovani would be able to enjoy the lake. Then, as if receiving a message from above, I gasped and asked Jovani, "Do we have an extra pole?" A red pole was found and Micaela gleefully took hold of it and began to fish. She was avid, completely fixated on the activity. For the next four hours she hit the water determinedly with the pole and told us she was "fishing".
At one point, I just settled back into my chair and took it all in: Micaela's happy play that was so determined to match her papa's activities, Adela careful attention to her own activities and wonder at nature, Jovani's patience and peaceful attitude as he helped Adela and taught her how to bait hooks and take fish off the line. It was as if I was meeting them for the first time. Something about seeing them away from our normal lives showcased features of my loved ones I rarely see. It was beautiful, a landscape of God's workmanship and His hands in my family's life set to the background of God's mountains and water.
I saw them all out there. All of them.
I think we can get so used to the wonder of God in our normal lives, that we lose that feeling of awe. We lose that attitude of gratefulness. We lose that mentality of serving an awesome powerful God. But, on those days at the lake, I saw it all with sweet clarity as if He was showing it all to me for the first time.
Returning home, I felt new respect for my husband and felt the laughter come easier with him. I also felt as if my girls had grown up more. Not because they had done maturing in the mountain air, but because I saw them in different situations and settings and noticed things about them that I hadn't seen yet.
I found my life and faith and family again out on that lake.
Where and when have you felt your faith and your love for your family refreshed?
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"...and God was already there with me."