Faith · Peace

I Choose Peace

For the past week, peace has evaded me. From morning until evening my life has been packed with schedules, work and routine.

It’s busy in the public school world.

I guess that’s why I always loved homeschooling, home life, and relaxed schedules. Because I believe rest and boredom are essential for our souls. The unrest this generation is facing is possibly as damaging as starvation to our souls.

We do not rest.

And I’m not used to this. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m going to get used to this. In fact, I refuse to get used to the chaos inside of me… Outside chaos can only be handled well with inside peace.

There has to be another way.

As I was meditating on Psalm 23 this morning, I heard God’s gentle rebuke:

“Heather, you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed… choose what is better and it will not be taken from you.”

Friends, we get to choose.

Chaos or peace.

Fear or trust.

Striving or being.

It’s a daily choice. One that I have been forgetting. I choose peace. I choose trust. I choose living in each moment. I choose to stop and admire the beauty of the fall leaves. I choose to slow down and listen to what my kids are actually saying. I choose to make eye contact and respond.

I choose peace.

Peace – Hillsong

Fitness · Health · Running

Run

Lost in thoughts that swirl like the wind around me, the steady rhythm of my feet keeps the time. The world around moves slowly, as if I’m in some different place entirely – a world far different from mine.

Golden fields stretch out far as the eye can see. Chaos fades into peaceful breaths, left alone to my thoughts and steps. Sometimes in silence, sometimes singing with each gasping breath. Sometimes yelling to the dog because she’s off in the field, nowhere near my side.

Beside me, my dog comes alive. It’s the favourite part of her day. Just us, going nowhere for no reason. When does that happen?

Most days, just before evening.

The sun begins to set.

The stifling heat of summer gives way to the cool of the fall. Leaves turn warm colors as the air grows colder each day. Red, brown, yellow and orange. The perfect skyline bouquet.

Run.

As my breaths become sharper, and my knees begin to ache, I change the tempo and taper my speed. The rhythm is slower, but perfectly in tune with the world around me which is also preparing for rest. My favourite shoes begin to rub and pinch in the all wrong places. The skin beneath my arm feels tender. A sword pierces my side.

But I do not stop.

Perseverance is par for the course. Runners know persistence, they are tenacious and among the stubborn on this Earth.

Because what would we do without this?

Trade real beauty and peace for a screen? Trade true emotional rest for a sitcom or show, that wearies the mind and troubles the soul? Or rush from one event to the next…still running, but without taking a breath. Or make wearisome conversation when all that you crave is stillness and to be alone?

No.

I run. To nowhere at all.

For the Joy. In the pain. Finding God. Shutting out hate. For the peace. For my health. This keeps me sane.

To remind myself that I’m still here, and I still matter.

Keep running.

Family · Parenting

The Dreaded Month of May

Ahh….May.

The month of spring and growth. The month of celebrations and birthdays. The month of warmer, longer days, of beautiful sunsets and green grass. The month of sports, warm days and cool, comfortable evenings. The month I was born.

You may be wondering by this point if you misread the title of this post. I assure you, you did not. And the party crasher of those blissful would-be moments is….my schedule. My busy, lose-your-mind-completely, schedule where I resemble a frazzled mom who lives off two showers a month and whatever crumbs I manage to scrape off the floor of my van on my way to the next practice, recital or…who knows where I’m headed next but I count on my kids to wildly shout from the backseat if I turn in the wrong direction.

Gone are the early motherhood days where I sat on the couch beside my husband, wondering who we should call to get together with and show off our new baby to. Gone are the days when I made healthy freezer meals a month in advance so I could put supper in the slow cooker when I got up and stroll about the day in my pjs, book in hand. (This is where you roll your eyes at me, because I am now making up memories that don’t exist in my adult life…freezer meals?? Ha! I’m lucky if I get supper on the table each day!)

I kid you not, I just left mid-post to clean up the barf of not just one but two boys who are feeling sick. I’ll spare you the scene I just witnessed as I don’t want to loose all of my followers in one post, but let’s just say that my husband told me that if I wasn’t around to clean up that mess, he would’ve lit a match and walked away. True story.

Deep breaths. Deep Breaths.

Where was I going with this post again? Oh yeah. May is terrible. And hectic. But every year I look forward this crazy month until I’m in it…then I hold my breath until is over. Today is the last day and I can now triumphantly say, “Yes! I made it! It’s the last day of May!”

Hold that thought, clean up duty calls again…

Is it June yet?!?

Depression · Faith

Mental Health: Are We Choosing our Own Chaos?

I don’t do random.

If I start something new, it almost always has a purpose. Sometimes the roads I travel start with a purpose but only lead to a dead end, or they get so rocky and dangerous that I turn around.

But I never just carelessly walk down random paths. I’m far too predictable, to safe, to orderly for risky adventures. However, I have to admit that I always seem to find myself on these precarious streets…

Like the time I chose to keep my baby at the age of seventeen. Or when I chose to get married before I graduated. A few months later, I chose to pack up a bag and live at the hospital while my baby boy suffered for almost a year, before witnessing God’s amazing healing hand.

I chose to finish my high school diploma with 3 kids under 3, even though my body begged for extra rest and I had no desire to do homework when they were finally sleeping at night.

Later, I chose the lonely road of homeschooling, though I’m not a great teacher and I feel unqualified.

I chose to leave a church full of friends and family that I had attended since my childhood to help start a church that ended up being the most painful and wounding experience of my life so far. I also chose to walk in forgiveness and healing, believing the best of people.

We left a job my husband loved, to buy into a company and build it into something, which has been painfully difficult.

And my newest path is the choice to send my five beloved children to public school next year.

I wish I could see the future but I can’t, so I try to walk as close as I can beside the only one I know who does: my Heavenly Father. He’s known by so many to be a rock. A shelter in the storm. The hiding place. He’s a foundation. He is a strong tower. Our refuge in times of trouble.

That is my God.

The choices above may seem difficult, but no matter how those around me viewed them, they all brought a sense of peace and although there has been hardships and inner turmoil around me almost constantly, I rarely have felt that sense of chaos within me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have felt inner turmoil. In the past I felt a lot of it while dealing with depression and anxiety. In fact this month I’ve been feeling a lot of it.

I can tell almost immediately when I’m in “overwhelm” because I become unable to slow down and just be. My downtime moments are filled with distractions.

This is why I feel like having a daily time of devotions and reflection is so important. Other than connecting with God, if I wasn’t used to quieting myself nothing would seem wrong! I would feel anxious and upset, but I wouldn’t realize it until panic attacks and anxiety would start kicking in.

However now I can tell things are wrong just by assessing my quiet times. I just want to distract myself! Turn on the Netflix. Get out the iPhone. Scroll through the news articles!

There’s no desire to reflect or think about my own personal life and the “whys” or the reasons for my behaviours.

This is overwhelm: Avoiding reality. Avoiding the hard questions. Avoiding true connections. This leads to small talk, which leads to shallow and unfulfilling relationships.

It’s a constant disconnected feeling and general discontentment in life.

Sound familiar? This constant state of busyness and distraction are common place in our world, but should not be common place in the Christian life. It feels weird when I get like this because I’m not used to it. It’s like running in a random direction just for the sake of running.

Busyness is often like that, isn’t it?

We sign up for this and commit to that, not having a reason for it but simply because that’s the way the rest of the crowd is headed. It feels wrong to turn off onto a more lonely (albeit simpler) road. But in my experience that’s the path that usually brings the most meaning and peace.

Not that important lessons aren’t learned on the main roads…but with high traffic comes stress, chaos and accidents.

This is where quieting ourselves and learning to ask the hard questions becomes so important. Without reflection, life becomes too difficult to navigate so we instead turn to distracting ourselves from the busyness which leaves us disconnected with our own emotional state. Cue the sleeping drugs, anti anxiety and depression meds that studies say about 1 in 6 Americans are now dependent on.

1 in 6!! Let that sink in for a moment!

No I’m not saying that there’s never a reason to take medicine for mental health issues. Not at all! There are many legitimate imbalances in the human brain that require medical intervention. But do we really believe that 1 in 6 people need to be on meds? Or is there something else going on that we’re not willing to face?

These are uncomfortable questions and thoughts, I know. Necessary ones though.

Are we willing to face them?

Am I?

 

Family · Parenting

The Search for Peace in a House of Seven

It’s funny for me to look back on some pictures. Like this one for instance…

I was babysitting, which put the number of kids in my house at 7 kids under the age of 7. And I remember running around like a crazy woman…changing diapers, solving toddler fights, then running back to the kitchen , where I accidentally stepped on a piece of Lego, while making a camp-sized portion of mac and cheese. I shrieked in pain and hobbled to the bathroom to get a bandage and as I looked into the bathroom mirror I literally fell down laughing. I looked like some frazzled woman off of a reality T.V. show called “The Crazy Bunch.” For some reason I thought that I couldn’t hold this humor all to myself, so I took a selfie and I have this memory of one of the many crazy days I’ve lived through (which I probably would’ve completely forgotten about had I not chosen to laugh in the chaos)!

Wait? Did I call this post “Peace in a house of seven?” Ooops…my mistake, it should be called “Laughing Hysterically at the Chaos” or “The Day I Finally Lost my Mind”… because at some point I had to realize that Joy and Peace weren’t just going to happen. Actually just the opposite: I was going to have to make them happen.

And sometimes it meant laughing when I felt like crying… or when my kids embarrassed me so badly I just wanted to disappear. Or taking a picture of the moment rather than running from it.

Because while we love to share moments like this:

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In reality our lives look far more like this:

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Or this:

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Or this…

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Or this…

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Or this…

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After years and years of searching for this peace that I felt we must be somehow missing… I’ve realized that in a family of seven – five children, two (sort of) adults, peace could not be found in behaviour or rules. No amount of scheduling or discipline could achieve peace. All the nap times, quiet times and the movies in the world could not bring peace.

Peace can only be found in my very own heart when I say, “Ok, this is really really crazy right now but I’m actually going to laugh instead of doing whatever it is that I really want to do (yell, cry, run into a room and hum with a pillow over my head).”

Because the peace that Jesus gives isn’t about circumstances.

Otherwise Jesus himself wouldn’t have had peace! His life was full of many LONG days of ministry, disciples that were constantly arguing about who was the best, huge groups of people crowding around him so tightly that he couldn’t even walk through towns, judgemental Pharisees who were constantly criticizing him… and many other troubles. But he was a man who had abundant peace. In fact he was so overflowing with peace, that he freely gave it to others:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

And if I am claiming to be his follower, it my right to claim this peace, because he gave it to me!

But is it really that easy? Honestly, yes… and no. Yes, because it’s YOURS – you can have it, all you need to do is seek it.

And No because our flesh screams when things aren’t peaceful… we want to fight for more control, for more quiet, for “me” time, for order.

Yet peace in my life has most often been found when I just let go. I say, “God, this is honestly too much for me and I’m giving it to you. I cannot carry the weight of my children’s decisions on my shoulders for the rest of my life… they’re in your hands now. I can’t change them when they’re fighting so badly I just want to throw them all in a box and ship them to Timbuktu. I can’t change the way my toddler demands HIS way and it comes with screaming FOR HOURS. But you can, God, and they’re in your hands.”

And suddenly I realize, all these things I was worried about weren’t in my control in the first place. Letting go was simply admitting that I couldn’t control these things and instead of holding onto them, they were now in the hands of Someone who CAN do something.

I’m not saying it’s easy to choose peace… but it’s possible. It’s possible for me to see a damaged floor in our brand new house from my kids dragging furniture around the house and stay calm…because I can see it as an opportunity to show grace.

I can laugh when I go out shopping with a big piece of blueberry in my teeth or my fly zipped down, only to see it afterwards because really, I can either stress about it, or laugh with the rest of the world.

And I can laugh when I look like a crazy housewife and my house looks like it went through a topless blender.

And so can you. 

Just remember to take LOTS of pictures and please share them with me, so I can share in your laughter! Because in 45 years when the silence is so loud your ears hurt and “peace and quiet” actually means loneliness; when you’re shaking the dust from those doilies on your coffee table… you’ll look back to those pictures of muddy children in the spring time, smeared makeup and frizzy hair morning snuggles, and kids all screaming in the family picture and you’ll smile because those memories will be filled with peace.