15 Things I Learned {About Transition} in August

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This month I have discovered that transition isn’t for the faint of heart, sacrifice is a hollowing process and testing precedes the fulfillment of God’s promises. I have learned that I don’t give up easily and I will fight to the finish in the face of failure, as long as I know God is with me. As we scour through our possessions in preparation for our move to England, this is what I’ve learned in the process:

1)      You really don’t need as many clothes as you think you do. You’ll discover that reality when you must reduce the volume from a walk-in closet to a small armoire in London.

2)      The same truth applies to jewelry, shoes, hats, accessories, dishes, towels and table cloths. Ask me how I know that.

3)      On my birthday, seated around the table at our favorite Mexican restaurant, my kids gave me the very best unintended gift. They Googled the Myers Brigg personality test and took it. Afterward, we all understood each other so much better.

4)      I have thinkers in my house (two INTJ’s and one ENTP). This little tidbit offers vindication for my ENFP personality. I no longer feel wrong about expressing emotions or forgetting what I was saying during dinner conversation with my three rational thinkers. They’ll get over it.

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5)      You cannot make a major life transition without intercessors who speak into your desperation. They will be the lifeline for your hopelessness during the uncomfortable waiting season.

6)      Blogging isn’t about statistics or platform building. This is a mirage, a distraction from the relationships God is arranging. Some of the very people who pray for me daily and believe in me with abandon are those I never even knew existed before I started blogging.

7)      Intimate friendships are possible with people you’ve never met in person.

8)      Remember those early years, when you were poor and hungry, collecting recipes for ground turkey and hamburger? Hold onto those treasures. You may revisit those a few decades later except now your children will eat them with you.

9)       Apparently Hello Kitty isn’t a cat. Whatever.

10)   There are places that willingly take all my unwanted stuff and repurpose it for someone who needs it. Thank you Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, the Fire Department and my church.

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11)   There are places that willingly take all my unwanted possessions, sell them and then give me half of the profit. Thank you Once Upon a Child and all the local consignment stores that send us little checks every month. We are grateful we don’t have to host yard sales.

12)   We have too much stuff. Refer to #9 and #10.

13)   Sending your first-born to college while at the same time planning a move across the Atlantic may seem crazy and unconventional until you actually step into the adventure and watch God orchestrate the details.

14)   The rhythm of Sabbath will save you during hard seasons. Rest is tangible in the embrace of community.

15)   Waiting is hard but worth it.

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What did you learn this month?

What Anxiety Is Telling You

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Unloading the dishwasher, I stack the same three bowls we’ve used for a couple weeks back into the empty kitchen cabinet. This morning, the heaviness in my chest keeps productivity moving at a turtle’s pace.

I walk plates to the island carrying an invisible hard shell of worries with each step. No matter how deeply I sigh, the uncertainty in my circumstance clenches the exhale with a steadfast grip. As soon as I allow myself to dream about the future, joy is shrouded by the what-ifs.

Our well laid plans to move to London are delayed by God’s timing.  Instead of navigating a new culture, I am still packing boxes and unloading my kid’s cereal bowls from the dishwasher.  A For Sale sign remains front and center, planted among tufts of green grass in the garden.

In the book of Philippians Paul says; do not be anxious about anything.  In my current situation this translates, “Do not breathe or the worst will happen.” That feels impossible.

I used to read this verse as a suggestion . . . but now I know better. Join me for the rest of the story at Velvet Ashes, a website dedicated to women living overseas. I’m finding kindred souls and a warm place to exhale in this community. Join me?

 

Why You Need to Stop Shoulding All Over Yourself

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Peeking through the crack in the bedroom window, I tell H, “I’m going on a walk now. I should’ve gone earlier but . . .”

It’s 10:00am on a Monday morning and I hear myself say it. Is this really how I want to start my week?

“Why am I doing that to myself?” I say to him in the next breath. “I’m shoulding all over myself and why, I have nothing on my schedule, it makes no difference what time I go on a walk.”

He smiles and knows he doesn’t need to say anything.

When I hear the should in a sentence, it’s a trigger that I need to re-evaluate. Should is a sign I’m making decisions from guilt and condemnation instead of conviction.

And really, should is most often a result of comparison. I should be thinner, sexier, less talkative, more thoughtful, a better parent, you insert the adjective. Today I am judging myself based on my productivity about how I am using my hours. In a split second I created an unreasonable standard for myself that became an instant joy-sucker.

Living a should-life is one of diminishment. Instead of flourishing in God’s freedom, we drink the dregs the world dictates and the result is often bitterness.

When God uses the word should in the Bible it is usually a teachable moment. His directive before the Lord’s Prayer, you should pray this way, is not because He wants to make us feel guilty about a lack of eloquence but because He longs for conversation. His examples give perspective, a road map for relationship.

With all the news about Ferguson scrolling through social media feeds, I have revisited my childhood and realized something important.

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Growing up in St. Louis County, in a small apartment with my mother, I listened to the deep-throated melodies of Barry White on the weekends while we dusted with the windows open. It was the place I was first introduced to brown-skinned baby dolls by the little girl living in the apartment above us. Her parents wowed me with great fashion sense in the 70’s and rocked an afro with confidence.

There is a part of me that says I should interject what I think about all the banter on television because I actually lived there, but the truth is, that’s more about guilt than being a clear voice of reason regarding racism.

When I hear myself say, you should, in the context of my writing voice, I know it isn’t God leading me but selfish ambition.

And that also applies to other areas.

If I hear myself say, “I should be praying more,” I have to ask myself what is my motivation.  I’m pretty sure God can take care of things despite my lack of commitment.

When I make the statement, “I really should spend more time with my kids,” I’m reminded that my kids don’t want my nearness induced by a guilt trip. People desire relationship motivated by love, not something you check off a list.

Should in a sentence reminds me to assess my motives. If the result comes from a place of conviction then I know my response requires action. Otherwise, I can discard that thought and enjoy God’s fingerprints all over creation. That is exactly what I did on my walk.

Unrequited love brings sorrow yet it’s more honest than guilt-induced intimacy. Love doesn’t use guilt as a tactic so perhaps should is really a sign that I’ve made trusting God an elective.

Are you shoulding all over yourself like I am? How do you evaluate your decisions?

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*For people led by the Holy Spirit regarding Ferguson read the wise words of my friends Deidra and Jennifer who actually went there over the weekend.

Linking with Jennifer and Holley.