Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My 2018 Word of the Year (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

The beauty of Wonder is that it opens your heart to new and different, because you are not operating out of a need to prove yourself. The risk of Wonder is that it opens up your heart to new and different - which might lead to the desire to prove yourself.

By the end of 2017, I found myself operating out my old habits of needing to prove myself, and I felt like I was failing on many levels. It led to a strong desire to just hide. To quit showing up. To pull away. The Year of Wonder had drawn me down new paths that were overgrown and unfamiliar because I had never taken them before. I felt anxious and weary.

I sensed God's invitation to simply rest during the month of December. To quit striving. (Not sure how to do that during a month like December?  I have a little course I could tell you about. 😆)

And in the stillness, He met me.

I read this post in mid-December and these words resonated deeply with me:

"Anxiety is a function of divided attention...Inner peacefulness requires single-mindedness...Peace isn’t a matter of circumstances — it is a matter of focus. Singleminded centering on Christ gives a singular peace."

Then He reminded me of a verse that He gave me way back in the early 2000's as I was preparing to leave my teaching position in Seoul, Korea to return to the States.

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations...and I will give you an undivided heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh..." Ezekiel 11:16-21 (And yes...I pulled out my journal from that year to find it.)

Not long after this reminder, our pastor preached on a very similar passage (Ezekiel 36:24-27). Then a few days later, a friend gave me a Christmas ornament with those very verses inscribed on the tag.

His call to an undivided heart continued to beckon. My focus returned to Him and to His promises. I made space to repent to God and to others the ways that I had allowed my heart to become divided, the ways I had turned to anyone or anything else to prove myself, rather than trusting His love for me.

Shortly after that, I journaled "I'm back at a place of WONDER today." The wind began to return to my sails.

A few days later, I woke up with this word the very first thought in my mind:


Then the next day:

Keep showing up.

Then a couple of days later, I woke with these lines from a song in my head:

"When fears are stilled, when strivings cease." 

I had to start back at the beginning of the song to remember where those words came from.  Oh yes. "In Christ Alone". Interesting. We haven't sung that in a long time, how odd that it would be the first thought in my head.

We sang it in church the following Sunday. 

I will be honest. I'm not completely positive what the purpose is of those words. But that's ok because I'm receiving them with Wonder, rather than a need to prove anything.

I do know they all reflect the desires of my heart and maybe God is giving me permission to wonder again about who I am when I am free. Maybe He is reminding me that they are His desire too, and will fully be met in Him alone.

So, friends. This post sharing a bit of my story is my first step toward showing up. Away from hiding. Toward an undivided heart. Away from fear and striving and toward connection.

(Also, according to my INFP personality type, one of my New Year's resolutions should be to open up to the world. Here you go, world.)

And so, the word that I am choosing for 2018 is Wholehearted

I am asking the Holy Spirit to show me what that truly means. I certainly don't have it all figured out yet. But I do know I'm missing the mark if I'm living disconnected, out of fear and striving or not showing up.

And will I fail at living this out? You bet. Daily.

But as my friend Christine shared with me this year, "No matter what steps I take forward in God's economy, it all gets used." Even steps that fail.

(And yes, I journaled that. 😊)

Happy 2018, friends. May we all show up this year. 

Reflections on my 2017 Word of the Year

There is something about the end of a year that makes me want to write.  Friends might call it processing, a somewhat annoying endearing trait of mine.

I prefer to call it reflecting. Taking a glimpse at the past as a springboard for the future.

Truth is, I do this almost on a daily basis. In recent years, I've learned to call it 'paying attention'. Noticing. Contemplating.

Journaling is a lifeline for me in engaging this practice. I can see three journals that I have filled in the past two years right from where I'm sitting. A friend has informed me that the very first thing she is going to do when I die is read through all of my journals. I'm not sure whether to be flattered or terrified.

So usually my reflecting is a personal practice between God and me. He is super nice about my ramblings.

But occasionally, I get the courage to share my reflections with others. So I've dusted off this old blog of mine and started pounding away at the keyboard before my courage fades - or I find something new to process, whichever comes first.

My word for 2017 was Wonder. I have never so fully embraced a word. I jumped into Wonder with both feet, heart wide open. I wanted to give myself space to wonder about who God is and who I am because of Him. I wanted to let go of my old ways of proving myself and simply show up. I was wondering what that kind of freedom might look like. 

This meant I tackled my preconceived ideas about who God is and who I am because of Him through conversations with dear and wise friends and sisters, spiritual guidance, books and asking God about the questions stirring in my soul.

I attended retreats, visited churches unlike my own, participated in a weeklong relational healing training, engaged with people as safe and known as my pastor and as diverse as a Catholic sister and a charasmatic preacher. I helped start two different prayer groups, and began to pray freely with friends, for friends, with my kids, for my kids, with my husband, for my husband. I spent many hours talking with my husband about the learnings of this journey. I learned to feel comfortable with discomfort as I asked questions I never considered asking before.

My thirst for Wonder was almost unquenchable. It was joyful, unsettling, exciting and frightening all wrapped into one.

But by the end of the year, my attitude had shifted. I came limping into the last months, beginning to notice a change in my focus. Instead of wonder, I was back to striving. Instead of joy, I was caught in the throes of deep angst. Fear of failure was close at my heels in multiple areas of my life.

All of this wondering had opened my heart wide to God and to others and to showing up in ways I had never shown up before with my family, with my friends and with my church.

But suddenly I just felt a strong desire to hide. It was a year of big emotions and I was tired.

Click here for part 2

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy First Birthday, Lincoln!

Today is Lincoln's first birthday. I'm not gonna lie. It's definitely gotten overshadowed by our recent move. In fact, I can't even upload lots of adorable pics of him because they are all on our desktop computer that still isn't set up yet.

We did have a joint celebration for both the boys before we left--but again with the no pic thing. You'll just have to believe me on that one.

But let me tell you, in spite of the lack of hooplah, we really love this kid.

Here's one cute pic I was able to track down!

I think most Moms understand that fear that you won't be able to love a second child as much as the first. I struggled with that feeling right before Lincoln was born. But, I quickly discovered that there is a whole new space in my heart to love a second child. It's funny how that works. It's the same love but completely different. Does that make any sense?

I love how Lincoln:

  • says hi to us every time we come into the room.
  • works so hard to copy what we do and say. He makes the best silly face ever.

  • already says ball, uh oh, night night, daddy, book, and no (all in his own little way!)

  • snuggles with his bunny at night--thankfully it wasn't long after this post that he learned that sleeping is fun. I am one grateful Mama!

  • giggles with his brother--Griffin makes him laugh like no one else!

  • wants us to hold him. I know this won't last long, so I'm trying to soak it up now.

  • loves to be outside. It's a great cure on his grumpy days...which do happen on occasion!

Lincoln Parker, we are amazed that it was a whole year ago that you waltzed into our lives. We are excited to watch you grow and learn and become who God created you to be. How we got so lucky to be your Mommy and Daddy is a mystery to us--but we are so grateful that God placed you in our lives.

We love you. Thank you for taking this whole crazy phase of life all in stride.

We'll make it up to you next year, ok?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Griffin!

Today, Griffin turns 4.

The progression of childhood is sneaky. The minute you think you've finally mastered one stage, the next one arrives. I'm trying to remember how Griffin moved from the stage of sleepless nights and baby bottles to big boy beds and pop tarts. When were Baby Einstien and the Wiggles replaced by The Incredibles and Spiderman?

When did he move on from being this precious helpless little thing...

to this fearless one...

with the BIG muscles...

and the BIG brothers' heart?

When did he become this little man?

I will always treasure the days of 'Bootball' and 'Melmo'. But I'm loving the days of "Shimby Me Timbers" and 219 questions as well (most of the time...). I know one day I'll wake up and you'll have moved on to other things. So for now, I am soaking up the era of the ABC song and eskimo kisses, afternoon naps, and nighttime lullabies (with the occasional "Shot to the Heart" medley mixed in.) You remind me often that you are a Big Boy, but you will always be my Little Man.

We love you more than we know how to put into words.
Love, Mommy

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Next Step in Our Journey

A little over a year ago, I wrote this post after Wes was laid off from his job. In it, I shared this picture of a card that I had made for Wes the week prior to the lay-off.

We chose to tape the card to our bathroom mirror as a constant reminder of our promise to stay the course even when the course seemed uncertain and downright frightening.

Months passed. The card fell off the mirror. We stuck it back up there. It fell off again. We got more tape and slapped it back on. More months passed.

At times, I felt tempted to just toss it when it fell to the ground. The course seemed too hard to follow. Too confusing. Too unknown. When we made this promise we had no idea that it would be over a year before we had any idea what the next step in our journey would be.

I am so grateful to share with you that this week Wes accepted a job as youth pastor at Grace Bible Church of Souderton, PA.

If you know Wes, you know that he is a man of many talents. But, primarily his gift with teenagers is extraordinary. He has a way of reaching them that is unlike most others that I have seen. They are drawn to him and he is able to speak truth into their lives with both grace and boldness.

Over the course of our journey (which actually began shortly after we married 7 years ago), Wes has struggled with his call to youth ministry at times. We have been tempted to throw in the towel and walk a completely different path. The call to ministry felt too hard to follow. Too confusing. Too unknown. At times, it was so tempting to just find an office job and be done with it.

But there was no getting away from it. Over and over again, through a number of circumstances and people speaking into our lives, it's been made clear. Wes is made for youth ministry.

Once we were sure of this, the next step was to find a church. This proved to be much more difficult than we anticipated. There were so many factors to consider. Philosophy? Vision? Mission? Leadership? Location? (Both of our families live here, so the thought that we might have to move far away from the grandparents has been difficult.)

We have been in process with Grace for several months now, and we are confident that this is where we are supposed to be. We already have great respect for the leadership and feel a kinship with the people there. (The fact that it is only 2 1/2 hours away AND only 15 miles from my brother's family has also helped!) We are SO EXCITED!!

(That's not to say that there isn't sadness mixed in as well as we prepare to leave our family and friends here in NY. However, I think this is a post for another time. I've got some tears saved up for that one.)

Thank you for your love and support along this journey. We know that the journey doesn't end here...it simply picks up in another location. We will continue to run the course that God lays out for us.

We are confident that He will show us how.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Better Late than Never...

I could tell you all about how busy we are.

How we just got back from camping.

And how we are going again this weekend.

And how much laundry I need to get done.

But I will spare the details. I'm guessing you are pretty busy yourself. It is summer after all.

So in lieu of my top 6, I will share my ONE goal for this week:

1) Spend LOTS of quality time with my family!
How's that for a list?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Super Griffin to the Rescue!

"Mommy, can I get dressed? I need to put my Super Hero clothes on!"

It's how we start most mornings here in the Ehret household. The Super Hero phase has begun and is going strong. If he's not Super Man, then he's Spider Man. Or Bat Man.

Griffin and his cousin Natalie at our church picnic

The other day he told Wes, "You stay here. They usually pick up the trash in an hour." (a la Mr. Incredible to the Bad Guy).

So when Papa Doug asked Griffin to be his sidekick in a special skit at our outdoor service at church, it was a no-brainer. Of course he could help Papa by donning his alter ego for a few hours. Helping is what Super Heroes do best.

Papa and Griffin saving the day

I, being the Super Hero's Mommy, was too busy feeling all proud and stuff to think of taking a video of this occasion. However the Super Hero's Aunt did. You can see it here.

So, this begs the question:

"If you could have any Super Hero power, which one would you choose?"

I used to think mine was flying.

Now, I think it's the ability to wash, fold, and put away tall piles of laundry in a single bound.