More with less

IMG_2979 There's been a common theme lately, a constant word and phrase hovering above my conversations. Sometimes the word is said loud and clear, other times it's merely a head nod or look; a shared, quiet language that says, "You’re feeing that way too?"

Less.

We want to commit less.

We want to say no more.

We want to make room for God to shake things up and open our eyes to the people we've been planted beside.

We want to lighten our loads and not feel an ounce of guilt for it.

I think that's the tug of war here, the constant fight in our hearts. Can I grant myself permission to say no even when someone or something wants me to say yes?

And I think there is power in listening to that fight within, the roar or grumble beneath. There is power in recognizing our own limits and boundaries and choosing to honor and celebrate them, rather than apologize for it.

We won't be it all dear one. We just can't. We won’t be the best wife or mother or friend or coworker, all the time.

We won’t always have the right words to say. I have to say this one on repeat.

And reminding ourselves of this, gently, is a good thing.

How freeing is it to let go perfection? To put our measuring stick away and trust that someone else's successes means good things could be coming our way too.

It just might not be today.

Today, your more might mean being faithful in the little.

It might be simple and quiet. It might be without any glamour or shine. But it’ll be good; it’ll be full of purpose and meaning.

And it's so hard to wait. It's so hard to unclench our fists and surrender control. I struggle with this one daily because we live in a world of more. We live in a time of excel, achieve, build your platform, work over time, wake up early.

Walk really fast.

And sometimes these things are good. There is a season for early mornings and late nights. There is a season to be challenged and stretched to new limits. It's energizing and empowering to dream big and wide, to constantly be looking for ways to be better, to love more fully, to extend more grace, to open our home.

But I think a really important question to ask is this: am I using "busy" as a crutch?

Do I surrender, bow down, lift up my hands to "busy"?

Put plainly, do I measure my own worth by how full my calendar is? Have I let "busy" become an idol?

If I am being honest dear one, if I really let you in to the deepest, insecure parts of my heart, I’d say yes, I do those things because busy is comfortable.

It's all I've known and seen.

It's more comfortable to fill every square inch with something, anything, rather than sit alone at a coffee shop with a journal and phone turned off.

But busy comes at a cost, right?

When we say yes - always, when we open our door - always, when we commit and volunteer and raise our hand first - always, we fail to give our body, mind, and spirit permission to practice mindfulness and intention.

And I know those words get tossed around a lot. They sound pretty and sweet but what do they even mean?

To me, they mean savoring the cup of coffee in my hands, feeling the warmth from the mug press into my palms, the softness of the rim as I take a slow, steady sip.

It means looking at another person, really looking at them, and honoring the space you are in - a coffee shop, waiting room, or grocery store checkout line and recognizing that this moment is big, it's huge, it isn't small and insignificant.

It means listening with all that I am so you know you’re story, all the bits and pieces matter. That it’s a story worth sharing.

It means doing less to leave room for creativity. The best ideas need space to breath and foster. They need long walks and evenings at home making soup and stories around a campfire.

I don't want to miss what could happen because I'm too busy planning what should.

What about you friend? Are you in a season of busy? How are you finding ways to practice intention and being present?

xoxo

on fences

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I didn't want a white picket fence.

Let me give you a scenario. There's a girl [me] whose just returned from living on a farm in rural Nicaragua. Showers happened when it rained enough, electricity was powered by the sun, and numbers 1 & 2 were done outside. She was also sleeping under a mosquito net, in a bed made of bamboo.

There's a guy who emailed this girl every two weeks and is seeing her for the first time, in a long time, on New Year's Eve.

Any bit of romance was shot with my ranting about what I had done and seen and been exposed too. Nothing says "let's kiss at midnight" than the words - compost toilet. I was completely out of sorts and confused and figured this guy wouldn't understand.

And I figured he was the kind of guy who wanted a pretty house with a well manicured lawn, surrounded by a white picket fence. And at this moment in time, that landscape and lifestyle made me so angry and upset.

I wish I could say I didn't yell, though I think I did. I totally yelled when he said he needed to go the bathroom and I couldn't understand why he wouldn't just go outside beside the tree.

I mean, that's what I had done for the past 2 months.

"It's freezing cold, Maeve. And, there is a bathroom inside."

Mmmm. Yes. You are right.

Though for a girl who had been exposed to a developing country for the first time, my world was flipped upside down and inside out. Nothing felt the same. I cried on my Dad's shoulder when a friend asked if I wanted to get a pedicure.

Travel changes us. I believe that with all my heart. But as time goes on, as we remain "home', it gets easier to settle back in. Suddenly, you don't have a nervous break down in a grocery store. Suddenly, a hot a shower and toilet and pedicure seem pretty nice.

But it's the fences. And here's the deal, I don't dislike fences. I actually find a white picket fence surrounding a garden or patio really beautiful. We currently have a fence.

It's the feeling of comfort, of convenience, of standing still.

Because lately I've prayed a big prayer. I've prayed to be used up, I've prayed for God to hijack my day. I've prayed that He'll make it about Him completely.

But sometimes I pray with hands clenched tight.

I pray to be used up, yes, but in a way that I see fit. My plan's the best plan, right?

I pray for God to hijack my day. But please Lord, don't inconvenience or change my schedule too much. I've got things to do and people to see.

I'll pray for God to use us, on our street and in this world. And yet I see my neighbors sitting on their front stoop; the little girl with curls blowing bubbles. What if I walked over with some chalk and drew a picture with that little girl and talked with her mom?

There is power in the small acts of love y'all. So much power.

I pray to be ripped of my comforts - a hot shower and warm bed. But God, I really love gathering folks in my home, so having enough space to do that would be helpful.

Do you see what's happening here friend? Clenched fists. An inability to truly surrender. A "me" focus.

I hold so tightly to things - a home for gathering, quiet mornings, a busy schedule that I have control of. I set up boundaries without even realizing it.

Be vulnerable but not too vulnerable.

Be available but only when it works for me.

And boundaries are needed, yes. They are good. We can't give to every single person on this planet. We can't meet every need.

But what happens when our boundaries become a fortress? What happens when we've built a fence around our heart and folks can't find a place to come sit and stay a while?

Truth is, this prayer is messy and uncomfortable.

It calls us to conversations that may leave us tired in the morning. It calls us to introduce ourselves to the woman next door with hardened eyes and thick skin. It calls us to get rid of our stuff and spend money on people who may never pay us back.

It calls us to quit our jobs, sell our stuff, say no when we really want to say yes.

And that can be a scary prayer. But in all the mess and awkward moments, it seems worth it too. It's seems worth it to relinquish control, to give until it hurts, to surround ourselves with people in need of community.

I want to challenge us [me included] to step outside the fence. To see what lies on the other side. I think it might be better. I think it might be worth it.

And what if we encouraged each other when we do it? What if we cheered each other on?

So here's my request: Can you share your small act of love in the comment section below? And if you don't want to toot your own horn [though, I think you should] toot somebody else's.

In one week I'm going to pick one person. That person will receive a small gift from me in the mail. Who doesn't love mail?

Share below dear ones. Small acts of love y'all - that's all it takes.

xoxo