Monday, February 25, 2013

When the clouds were light and numbered 9...

So there has been a bit of heaviness here at Nitty.Gritty. for about 3 years now. Or maybe it just seems that way to me. The really wonderful part about being surrounded by darkness and heavy burdens in  life is that you know there must be a time coming when the light will shine and the clouds will lit again. I know I've been preaching that for a long while now. And a couple of times it even appeared as though the sun was starting to shine. But then more waves of life came and it's like I hit rewind around here and started to sound like a broken record again.
I am not going to lie. I do sound like a broken record way more often than I would care to admit. But it's not because I make stuff up. On the contrary, things often go from bad to worse for us and I don't always even share the worst! =) Thank goodness for that. I do know that one of the ways out of the clouds, or even a simple break from them is to look back at times when things have been good. The way to push ahead is often by looking back and believing that the good times will roll again.
Thank goodness for March's Sketchbook kit at just the right time! Last week when my scrapbook kit arrived on my doorstep from Cocoa Daisy I will tell you I was feeling like never scrapping anything again in my life ever. I was so convinced there was nothing 'good' in me to share. I can tell you that I wallowed and waivered for a few days. I questioned why does it matter if I do or don't scrap ever again. And do you know what I came up with? A couple of things. One was I LOVE to scrap and create and make things with patterened paper and stamps and cool 'stuff'. Two was that reality hitting me that if I walked away from scrapping then there would be even less fun and goodness in my life. I didn't want that to happen for sure! I didn't want the 'bad side' of me to win. So I dug deep and out of that spilled this nostalgic mini book that I made for Chip {and let's be honest here, for me too}. =) It is a little book about remembering where it all began for us. The fun, the love the happiness, the clouds that we walked on that were lighter than air all those years ago, and the magic that we felt just walking hand-in-hand.
You know what else happened? I spent way too much time making this. But during that time I got to think back on the many memories we did have where we laughed and learned new things about each other; I relived some of the memories that have been tucked away for a very long while.
Some days Chip and I can be so short with each other and just get through our days without a whole lot of niceness to each other- much less love and magic. I pulled out a tiny book I had in my jewlery box since our early days of dating and created a little pocket in this book to give it a more rightful 'home'. I remember handwriting that little book knowing my heart was so in love with someone and knowing his heart was in love with mine right back. It was a silly little gesture to make it and give it to him, but as I flipped through it and as I share it on this blog all these years later (that little book of Chip is more than 18 years old! and by the way, his real name is John David...he's gone by Chip since he was a small tyke though), I realize it is a gift to be able to peer into that young love and to have something tangible that documents it even a little bit. It makes it even more important for me to scrap now and hold onto and share the memories and stories that still lie hidden in my heart.
Even though the dark clouds darken my view and cloudmy eyes at times, I am so glad that I am able to glimpse past them, or push them back and make something out of their gray mist in my life. To Chip I just want to say thank you for loving me. Then, now and always. Lest we forget...may this little book and all our happy memories serve to remind us of the gift of our love. Forever! xo

Friday, February 22, 2013

Behind the scenes.

I talk about keeping it real around here. Sometimes I have gotten 'in trouble' or scolded for doing that too outright. Even my own husband has said to me a time or two, "You didn't need to blog that!" In the past couple of years, I have had so many times words or pictures or both were on my heart. But I just couldn't bring myself to share them- for so many different reasons. Sometimes the overwhelming stuff in life is just that. Overwhelming. My outlet in life since I was a little kid was to write. To get it out. To put it down on paper. To put words to the ache or happiness or searching that was in my soul. I sometimes wish that blogs had been around when I was 12. And 13. And 14 too. Up til now. I wrote so much and sometimes I come across little poems or journals that I kept all these years and sometimes my words hit me in new ways or show me a glimpse of who I was way back then. It's amazing to me how powerful words can be.
So much so that I don't even know how to type them out in the way I feel I need to just to 'say it right'. Or to say it 'wrong' but at least it's out and I can process it and move through those feelings. This is one of those posts. Where something has been on my heart, but it's hard for me to put it into words. In part that hppens because this blog has touched a lot of people, and in so doing, there have been some who have responded in hurtful or even unintentional ways, which have made me more guarded in what I do share. And also in how I share it. Even though this is my personal space to write or share whatever. I know that words and pictures impact people. And stir things in others. Sometimes we're on such different 'planes' or simply can't begin to out ourselves in someone else's shoes, and so the message comes across all wrong. I get that. I get it to the degree that it affects what I share and how I share it.
But this thing- this longing in me to share whatever it is that presses on my heart for unknown reasons to me- is so great that it urges me to share. Even if I get misunderstood. Even if it makes no sense to anyone else but me, and even if it means nothing else to anyone. To think that maybe it DOES mean something, or maybe it can touch someone else, or shed some light, connect my heart to another, that is reason enough to share.
Maybe I didn't even need to write all that out. I sometimes feel the need to explain why I blog. I guess that is my issue and I should work on that. =) Today I just want to share some behind-the-scenes pictures that took on a whole new look to me in light of some of the trials I have been feeling and going through in life right now. Going through some tough daily routines in a place where I'd rather not be right now has been a big struggle. My heart has been so heavy, my days have felt long and pointless so many days in a row. Still I believe that there is a point to it all. I believe I am lucky to have some amazing people in my life- close up and far away. I am lucky to know and love and believe in a God who doesn't waste a single struggle in our lives when we are willing to look to Him to make something beautiful out of it all. I am seeking to see the beauty in the process. Even when it is overwhelming, all-consuming, not-so-easy, and harder than it seems it should be at times.
Our family went to a local beach on Lake Michigan at the beginning of December. We wanted to capture some family pictures and let me tell you, it is no small feat to do such a thing with just the number of people we have to get in one spot. We knew the boys would be okay, because Chip had taken them to walk along the beach a couple of times prior to this picture-taking event. We knew we were going to be lucky to get even one picture together, and my expectations were very low as to even how that photo might turn out. I simply wanted us all in one frame together. I wasn't remotely concerned about smiles or eyes shut or any of that. Just get us together and hopefully, some of us would even have a bit of fun out on the beach at the same time. That was my goal.
To pull it off though, as small as that goal was, took a whole lot of effort. Just getting everyone dressed and into the van and then up on the sand dune for the attempted photo was a major effort. The wind was blowing fierce that day, even though the temperature {for Decemeber!} was a balmy 50 degrees. The boys wanted to run one direction and climb and have fun. I wanted that for them too. We didn't tell them, "it's time to take pictures!" but instead slowly gathered us all to one spot and had our friend keep snapping frames the whole time. It's those behind-the-scenes pictures to me that tell a more true story. The airbrushed, over-edited, Photoshopped pictures are the ones we see in the media all the time. But the truth, more often than not, is that in real life the 'pictures' are rarely posed or neat the way we think they always are. I think one of my struggles has been falling into that comparison trap where what we see around us or as we look at the lives of others we think things are neater or simpler or easier or 10 lbs lighter than they are. the fact is life is alot more messy than that.
Marriage is hard!
Kids are hard!
Gas prices go up...salaries don't rise at the same rate!
Sometimes prayers get prayed and the answers don't come!
Winds blow.
Rains fall.
Burdens get heavier.
Smiles get hard to capture all in one frame.
Getting the 'perfect picture' takes a lot of energy, time, bribing with tiny boxes of raisins, carrying others up sandy dunes, and even then you're not guaranteed a good shot. Much less a great or perfect shot!
Therein lies my struggle. That battle or tension that no matter how good the intentions or efforts or cause, the result might fall far short.
But I am slowly learning and keep repeating to myself that no matter what the results, it is always worth the effort to try. And not to simply just get though it, but to actually put my best foot forward. That is easier said than done! It's never what it appears to be, but even as I look back and as I look ahead, filled with questions and wondering if it even matters, I know that there is coming a day when the purpose and point of all the tough scenes we've lived in life will be so clear. And not only clear, but they will be redeemed too. That is enough to keep me going. No matter how hard the winds blow. No matter how heavy the load gets. I want to be able to see the picture as it was meant to be seen- from glory's vantage point. By His grace, that day is coming and oh what a day that will be.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Note to self:

Sometimes more than any other person out there, I need my own heart to hear the message I share with the world. Earlier today I left a comment on a friend's blogpost. As soon as it posted and the words I had just written stared back at me from the computer screen, I just knew that I was the one that needed to see and believe in what I had just shared.
Maybe your heart needs to hear this same whisper of truth too.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Learn new things.

It's February and I am sitting at home with three kids on this Friday, while the other three are at school learning new things. It's wintery and snowy outside, and I was out for a bit shoveling a small snowbank away from our mailbox in hopes that the mail carrier will actually stop at our box today. When I came in, I was chilled, of course. But after a quick warm-up it seems to be the perfect kind of day to learn something new myself.
As I think about all that has happened in the span of a year in my life, it is exhausting and certainly had its crazy parts. When I think of the demands I have on me each day, simply as a wife and mother of 6 kids with lots of needs, it can tire me out too. Top it off with a heart that has yet to embrace living where we do and feeling a lack of purpose to it all, and well, it just seems even more important and maybe even necessary for me to try new things. It is the idea of my word, soar, that helps push me to want more out of life too.
I have fought to find purpose and meaning in life for years and years now. And although I turned 40 and that in itself should indicate I should know what I am here for by now, it is still something I am seeking after all these years.
So in the quiet, and in the wait, and in this in between time where I find myself asking again, 'what am I doing and why', it is nice to give myself the space to just be still. And learn new things. Like crochet. I am thankful for my dear friend who literally helped 'hook me up' with this new venture. I am thankul for friends who care about me during the not-so-exciting times of my life. I am grateful that there are ebbs and flows in life that give us hope that there is something in the works yet to come. Today I wait, wonder, and yarn over and let my thoughts turn to what it is. I love quiet days...filled with Hope.