Friday, October 24, 2014

Joy in the Everyday

Sometimes it's easy to get discouraged when our stories seem simple + not filled to the brim with exciting events and moments.

My day is filled with watching a toddler eat a banana, cleaning up after him, waving at each car we see, playing outside, throwing balls, watching him explore, putting on shoes and clothes, and changing diaper and diaper.

It's not a particularly busy nor exciting season of life. It's so tempting to look at this season and think, "I love this kid, but I'm not feeling like my life is adding up to much right now."

Daily, daily, daily it's a journey towards looking out at each part of life and just enjoying what is in this season. When I really look for the beauty in the now, I find it so easily.

I see it in the joy my son has when he stomps in puddles or runs from one end of the playground to the other. I see it in the simple blessing of my husband handing me warm coffee while I'm still waking up. I see it in the way my son smiles at me when he's proud of a word he's trying to say. I see it everywhere.

It's not always effortless to see beauty in the everyday parts of my story. Often, it takes intention and seeking. But when I do focus on those moments, I'm just so darn thankful for this story and my life. I feel gratitude just rushing at me and squeezing me tight.

So, today, I encourage us to seek joy in the everyday and see beauty in the simple and present moments of our day.

Questions of the day:
What simple moments do you see beauty in your day in-and-out? Do you find it easy or hard to find beauty in those moments?

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Your Story is Not the Lottery

For years, Josh worked towards his goal: get a degree in aerospace engineering.

For years, we dreamt about what the days would look like post-graduation. What would it look like to have a life without tests, study groups, endless homework, and not have to live with a student budget? What would it look like to have two cars instead of one? How fun would it be to go on that trip we've been dreaming about? Where would we end up moving to for his job? Would we buy a house or wait?

Last December (2013), I looked ahead and saw a giant checkmark hovering above our future. And even though it was so uncertain (which was unsettling at times), it was also full of so many hopes and dreams we had been expectantly waiting for during the past five years.

For months, Josh applied for jobs, but there wasn't a lot of feedback or interviews. Finally, he was offered a local engineering job and took it.

Of all the options for our future, I never even considered this option. Staying put was not even on my radar.

It isn't that I hated living where we were or couldn't wait to leave--it was just that we always thought that leaving would be the only option.

Honestly, when I flipped through the dreams of our future, the idea of staying wasn't my favorite. By the time graduation rolled around, I was ready for new starts and a move. I was ready to start a new adventure and explore a new place.

I'd like to tell you that I was full of excitement and joy when he took the local job. Goodness, I was so thankful for it, but I still felt disappointed.

I felt a little like I had bought a lottery ticket and then realized I didn't win.

My numbers weren't drawn.

But these events over the last few months have really been God breathing in a lot of new in me, rather than around me. I'm learning bit by bit the freedom that comes from opening up my hands to His timing and His hopes and purpose for me. I'm understanding the value of digging in wherever I am and planting there--whether I am there for five years or five months.

Our story is not about everything going according to our plan and cashing in our winnings. Our story is about what God is doing with us and through us.

Let me share a part of a post I wrote that is still resonating with me; words that are still of a reflection of what I am thinking and feeling in regards to hopes and ideas:

"I don't want to neglect ideas and hopes I have because I am afraid they are too much or too big to actually do--because they really could be too big and too much, but I serve a God who is historically in the business of making things happen and doing some crazy things with everyday people. But, I don't want miss out on the pieces that make up my everyday because I am living in my field of planted dreams instead of the plentiful crop I have right now.

I've been thinking a lot about how the everyday doesn't need to live separately from the someday. I can live and celebrate the simplicity and joy that my life has right now. I can rest in that. But, even while I am tending to this season's garden, I can also throw out seeds for the future. Some of those seeds will die, some will sprout out beauty, some will be surprises, and some will need some tending to grow. Even if my future crop looks like weeds instead of roses when I get to it, my hope is not in those things anyway--my hope is in Christ.

Right now, the thing that really has been staring me in the face is whether I am placing my hope in having all my ideas work out or putting my hope in Christ and the work He has for me and has done for me. Because those things only equal that I am enough and that I have enough--nothing subtracts or adds to that. Through Him I have an inheritance and eternal life. Whoosh--such good news, the gospel is, isn't it?"

It is good news, isn't it?

Today's questions:

Have you had a season in life that surprised or disappointed you? How do you balance hoping for things in the future but not expecting them? Have you ever felt like you were supposed to win the "lottery"(and then everything in your life would be perfect) and then didn't win?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Beauty of our Story {31 Days}

(this pretty much sums up my life right now)

Well, I feel like I've made it to the home stretch of writing for 31 days. And honestly, I'm excited for the last week's topic: Believing beautiful about our story.

If you would have asked 15-year-old Nicole what she thought her life would like at 29 and some change, she would have said this:

Well, I'll probably have two or three kids and go on a date with my husband at least once a week and definitely write him lots of love notes. Also, I'll probably look better than I have in years and be super fashionable. Of course, I'll be busy writing another novel while the kids play at my feet and probably be basing it off the experiences from our last trip to Europe. Oh, and I'll have my own writing room in our traditional and full-of-history home. 

Oh, darling, young, Nicole.

My life and my story have not been tragic, nor ridiculously hard, nor full of overwhelming problems and difficulties. But, my story looks very different than I imagined. It looks different than I imagined it even a year ago.

Right now, my life is simple and not full of exciting things. And even though I'm usually content and thankful for that, sometimes it just seems a little boring and without big and important purposes.

Somedays I question what I'm doing and what else I could be doing. Am I really contributing enough? Will spending my days loving and tending and teaching my son be worth it? Am I really using my life?

I ask a lot of those questions, and I know that many other women to do--we ask ourselves what our lives mean and why we are living them in the way we are.

Somedays I feel defeated and deflated when I look to closely at others' stories and wonder why my story isn't as fancy or incredible as theirs. Somedays I wish my story looked different.

It's easy to get caught up in that--especially in a very visual and often misleading culture of highlighting the good and hiding the bad of our lives. So, in these next few days, I want to explore the beauty of my story. Because, in the end, I know my story has purpose.

And yours does too.

Questions for today:
Do you ever feel underwhelmed by your life? Or maybe your life and story feels like too much or is too heavy to bear. Do you believe your life is beautiful--just as it is? What do you wish was different or changed?

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