Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Power of the Middle.

Life has been full and oh so busy!  It saddens me to think I don't have time for blogging as much anymore.  Truth be told, I am so tired of writing for my Master's Degree that it leaves little desire for personal writing.  However, on the eve of my 40th year I can't help but feel pressed to document this moment.

There is a trepidation as I close my eyes tonight, knowing that tomorrow I will no longer be in my early years.  It feels like yesterday I was in youth group, setting up music song lists with Rachel Richmond and waiting for Andrew to arrive from college!  Or driving with Suzette, Jen, Louise and Sarah up to WPBC to visit Andrew or  rocking out in that little green Honda to countless retreats.  How does time fly by this quickly?  How is it that I will soon be the parent to a teenager next month?  It's mind boggling.

Yet, mixed in this moment is a beautiful feeling of gratitude and humble joy.  My life is so blessed.  I have known love since I was 16 and feel so grateful to be loved by Andrew for nearly a quarter of a century.  I have beautiful and loving children and a wonderful family.  I have many dear friends and although I don't see some of them everyday, they remain close to my heart.  I love my job and feel called to teaching.  I AM BLESSED.

I have heard it said that 40 is the young of the old and old of the young.  I am in the middle, and it is a familiar place for me as I am the middle child.  I know the role of the middle child is often seen as a negative, but I loved it!  I loved having both an older and younger sister, plus I had 3x the wardrobe!  In my graduate readings, one thought that impacted my studies has been the notion of rhizomatic learning (Deleuze & Guattari, 2007).  This type of learning generates from the middle, and allows for offshoots of learning to emerge from the middle.  This middle time of life offers me maturity, experience, and gratitude.  No longer am I striving to figure out who I am.  I know who I am and understand that I am a work in progress and have found peace in that.

Is aging easy?  No, can't say I love the forming wrinkles and lack of energy.  Yet, with age comes experience and the realization that life is messy, and hard.  Long gone are my pie in the sky notions seen through rose coloured glasses.  Life has dealt me much pain and sadness, and no doubt will continue to.  Yet, this awakening to be present and thankful for the here and now has only come through the painful and beautifully messy and twisted path of life.

As I fall asleep tonight, I won't be sad for the years gone by but will be thankful for the formation they have played into my ever evolving self.  I have so much to be thankful to God for, not only the mountain top parts of the journey, but also the deep darkness of the valleys and all that has been in-between!

I leave you with a quote from Austrian neurologist and Holocost Survivor, Viktor Frankl.  May I choose to use this sacred middle
space to find room for growth and embrace Christ's freedom in my life.  And I thank each and everyone of you for joining me in this journey of life.  Here's to the power of being in the middle!

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Sweet Spot of Your Soul.

The entry of this New Year was one for the books!  Celebrating with my sweet little family by having a movie marathon, mixed in with board games, then topped off with a magical wintery sledding adventure at midnight was perfection!  Sigh.  It was amazing.  This morning, Pastor Jim posed a question that resonated deep within me.  He asked, "Is your soul increasing or decreasing?"  As I look to this new year, this blank canvas, this fresh blanket of snow, I can't help but wonder?  Will my soul increase this year, or will it decrease?

Ultimately, I think we would all say we would hope for our souls to increase.  Yet, to grow, we must not only experience the beautiful, and magical moments.  Oh how I wish I had a pause button for moments like last night where I wished the world would just lull in the beauty of the moment.  However, often times our greatest increase comes from a challenge.  Now I think the word challenge often gets a bad rap!  In my studies this year, we learned about Vygotsky and his Zone of Proximal Development.  In order to grow in our learning, we must be challenged but in a way where it is scaffolded, and acheivable.  If learning is too easy, it doesn't motivate higher level thinking, but the opposite is also true.  If the learning proves too difficult, we tune out!  So, there is this 'sweet spot' where the learning is just hard enough to illicit those higher level problem solving skills, but we must also have the right supports in place in order to aid us in discovering the new unchartered areas of learning.  

I think this same principle can be applied here.  In order for our soul to expand, and for us as humans to grow spiritually, we must endure life's challenges.  Challenge yourself to find ways to support your spirit's growth.  Perhaps, start with redeeming a certain time that you already have.  For instance, on the way to work I recite the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Then when I pass a certain stop-light I start praying that I would be filled with God's peace and joy for myself and for the classroom.  That I would be at peace and be calm and full of joy to a world that is vibrating with stress and depression.  I speak peace over my classroom and joy into the space.  It has made a huge difference in my stress levels this year.  I feel as though my soul is increasing because of the scaffolded time of meditating on scripture.  

I hope you find your 'sweet spot' of learning and that when challenges come this year, that you will be ready to take it on knowing that with the proper supports, and reliance on Christ, you will come through it stronger, wiser and increased!  After-all, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!  (Phil. 4:13)