Make Like a Tree

He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree….(from “How He Loves”, David Crowder Band)

Wow, did I need to hear that song today. It’s been a hard week. In every way, all around. Big problems to solve. Big disappointments to face. Big things to forgive. Most importantly, Big lessons to learn.

I’ve got a LOT on my ptree-in-fieldlate, as I usually do. I kind of like my life that way–I certainly never get bored!–but it wears me out sometimes. This was one of those times. Too many questions, a way-too-long To Do list and many as-yet-unanswered prayers. I asked for prayers of encouragement at church today because I’m so weary of trying to spin plates, of waiting, and of striving to keep everyone around me happy. Then I heard that song.

It was a much needed reminder of just how much God loves me. I said…Just How Much. Beyond my comprehension, actually. I have a hard time wrapping my head around it most of the time. I have moments, but I’m not quite there yet. Like us all, I have not had a lot of experience with being loved unconditionally. There always seems to be something else required of me in the mix. And it seems I often disappoint myself, and others (ugly stuff!).

But, with God it’s different. So different. He loves like no one in this world can. All I heard in my head during that song was “I will not let you fall”. He will not let me fall. No matter how tired I get, the ugly emotions I let take over my mind, the lessons I have not learned yet, the actions I don’t take and the words I don’t say when I know I should. He loves me in such a BIG way (like a hurricane!) and He is patient as this little tree learns to let that love rain down on me, overtake me–knock me down, even, sometimes. I don’t get that kind of grace from anyone else, and I can’t really expect to. We’re not capable of it, but He is.

So, I got a sketchbook this afternoon and let all that I have pressing down on me out onto the paper. Just brain-dumped it all. It’s a LOT. And I don’t know what to do about most of it. But He’s got me, I know it. He will not let me fall. When I stay in the center of that amazing, huge, powerful hurricane. Stay in the eye, where it’s always the calmest. And let Him love me as only He can.

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Enough

The over-arching theme to my life lately–if it were a movie–would be “busy”. Make that waaaay too busy. An extra busy sundae with tired on top.

And while I’m out there being super woman, my mind is almost always thinking in the background about how I’m not home enough, like I used to be. I’m not cleaning my house enough. I’m not watching over homework enough. I’m not–gasp!–cooking enough. I’m not being a good enough Mom, or wife. I’m not keeping up with…anything. Yet I know each day I’m doing as much as I possibly can, I’m organized and a good multi-tasker. And I’m prayin’ for the strength to do it all. So what’s the problem?

I think it’s my definition of “enough”. As women, I think we’re prewired for this misconception. We’re either Wonder Woman and still feel like it’s not enough or; we feel guilty because we’re not “that woman”…either way we end up with the same voice in our head saying “not enough”. Maybe it’s time to examine that word. I’m not sure it’s doing us any good.

I am passionate about making good food a part of your life and most importantly, part of your family’s life. I say, “cook with your hubby and kids!” and they will grow to have an appreciation for food that’s good for them, they’ll be healthier, they’ll have skills for life. But the best part, the little nugget of gold in all that is this: they will mostly love the time spent with you. Yep…that’ half an hour together with you, where you’re not doing four other things, you are present. Or maybe a better way is to say: you are a present for them. That is “enough” (in fact, it’s more than enough!). It doesn’t have to be fancy, or complicated. It can be a simple sandwich and soup. Or a batch of cookies. The most important thing is that you are there, with them.

I was surprised to find out that my hubby doesn’t value the things I do. Sounds bad for a marriage, doesn’t it? But truly, he does not see the copious amounts of dog hair on the floor (and therefore doesn’t care), he doesn’t really care if I’m behind on laundry. What he does love is when I stop moving. When I sit with him a few minutes, kiss him hello and remember to ask him how his day went. That’s enough for him. It’s plenty, in fact.

See where I’m going with all this? I say “I feel like I can’t do it all and do it well!” So I go and go and go. If I’m constantly ‘waaay too busy’, my family will feel something missing–me!  But really, it’s the small things that we take the time to do that mean the most to those around us. And they make up for the times when we truly are very busy and need to get stuff done. Sit a minute and cuddle on the couch, a note in their lunchbox. I know it’s hard (Mary and Martha, anyone?!) but I’m trying to remember that if I can just do those things, maybe I can eventually quiet that little voice completely…”enough” is enough!

Unchartered Waters…

Sometimes you’re just “out there’. You know? Circumstances change in your life, or you’re busy handling the day-to-day, and one day you stop in your tracks and think, ‘ I don’t even know what I’m doing! How am I going to keep doing this?’ Whether it’s a new job, being a mommy or caring for aging parents, maybe you’ve been there.

It happened to me recently in the midst of what I had been seeing as a newfound blessing in my life. While trying to get my cooking class/consulting business off the ground, I got a part time job at a little shop in my town that sold, of all things…olive oil and balsamic vinegar…What a perfect fit for a full-on foodie like me! I was having a ball, and getting out of the work-at-home-in-your-jammies mode and meeting people was so much fun, too. If that wasn’t great enough, the owners came to me one day and asked if I’d like to partner with them to open up a second store, all herbs and spices, called Spice Traveler. It was like God said, “Here you go, Erin. Here’s a little gift I made happen just for you because I love you so much.” I was concerned about all I didn’t know about operating my own store. My past work experiences, although varied, did not include this! And how was I still going to be the kind of mom I want to be?

They made it clear that it was my knowledge of cooking and food that was key to this store happening. How flattering! They gave me full rein to develop the product line. Yay!  They said they trusted me to design the decor for the store. Wow!  Then, they left for a month-long trip to Africa with our opening date looming. They even had enough confidence in me to have me manage the olive oil store while they were gone. Okaaaay…..I decided this was not the time to let my daily prayer time slide. I knew I needed all the strength and wisdom God could provide to get through the next couple of months!

And that’s how I got through the day-to-day. But there were many days where I’d be in the middle of umpteen tasks to get our doors open, and dinner needed to be made, and soccer practice was that night. And I’d have a mini-breakdown, tears and all. They were just trusting me with SO much I didn’t know how to do, had never done before. Everyone was asking me questions, needing my decision.
I needed to be in “leadership’ mode almost constantly…and it was exhausting (and scary!).

Well…I’m happy to say opening day was a huge success! And I felt a huge relief at being “done”. But now I find myself with a “what’s next” list. Things I want to– need to–do, in order to help the store do well. And of course, it’s those same ‘unchartered waters’ again. Things I’ve never done before, things I don’t have the answers to right now.

So…for once in my life, I can look back with joy that, although I faltered here and there, I kept trusting God for the big picture. I will do that now with my “Next” list. Like Peter stepping out of the boat, I know I have to keep my eyes on Jesus and just keep moving forward.
All I can see is a million tasks, and questions and doubts. All He can see is where I’m going and what I’ll become.