12.12.2011

Labeled, part two.


What does God label me? According to Him, I am many things. I am loved. Forgiven and chosen. Accepted. An heir to the Kingdom. Friend. Lost then Found. Free.

And so often, none of these are what I feel. There is a disconnect between what I KNOW to be true, and what I FEEL. We all have that, don’t we--especially in the transitions of life. Funny how after we graduate from college we think we’re finished with transitions, but life’s really one long transition, isn’t it?  I have a dear friend who has lived life with me through many transitions. She and I would often talk about what it means to live fully when you’re not sure what’s coming next. We’d talk about living fully when things aren’t working out the way you thought they would, the way you wanted them to, the way you hoped they would. And I’d call and ask, “How is everything going?” Her answer, “Hard, but good.”

Hard, but good. I love that answer, because it gives me the freedom to answer in kind. Yes, I know that God has blessed me. I am incredibly blessed. I have an amazing husband, a beautiful daughter, wonderful supportive family, plenty of food, a warm house, good friends. But just because I have all those doesn’t mean that I don't still feel dissatisfied sometimes. And it’s not that I’m not happy with what I have…it’s that I am dissatisfied with my own dissatisfaction.

What does living life look like when we are real about what God labels us? It means that we are confident in His vision of us. It means that we get to the point where we don’t need a label. When we live life under God’s labels, we don’t need to look to the next big thing. We can live confidently in the hard, but good, places of life. We can be honest that God is getting us to where we need to be.

Who am I? I am God’s.

So to quote Hillsong,

I’ll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned, 
In awe of the One who gave it all…
I’ll stand, my Soul, Lord, to you surrendered. 
All I am is Yours.

11.28.2011

Labeled. Part one.




Something that fascinates me and always has is where I fit into things. How would I label myself and how would others label me? Who am I? Who am I compared to them? Who am I in relation to who I think I should be?

What got me started thinking about all this was a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago. She is a former counselor, now staying at home with her children. We were talking about the answer we give to the “What do you do” question.  When I am asked “What do you do?”  I find myself answering, “I just had a baby and stay at home with her, butIusedtobeateacher.” I find myself using my old label and tagging it onto the end of my new label. I feel like a cicada that has shed its skin and is standing looking at the leftover shell. Am I this new person or am I the old? Am I both or neither?

Another part of the difficulty I have with this transition into my new label is that I have these picture in my head of what a stay at home mom does and is. The first picture I carry around in my mind is equal parts 1950s housewife and crunchy granola mom. Clean house with laundry always done, dinner finished and dished washed, shower taken and hair done, baby toys picked up, carpet vacuumed; organic homemade baby food, cloth diapering, babywearing, attentive to baby’s brain development… The second picture is much simpler. Stay at home mom: two parts. One is staying at home. The second is mom. Both parts sound boring and stifling. I ask myself, who am I compared to others that have chosen to stay at home? Am I a balanced mix of stay at home amazingness, or am I boring?

Another reason is that I have attributed very little value to my new label and that’s why I feel such a need to explain what I used to do. Raising my daughter has tremendous value, yet it’s not enough yet for me to define myself by it. I desire it to be. I want to be fully accepting of my new “what I do.”

What about you? What are your labels? This week, take a look at how you’ve labeled yourself. Which should you keep? Which should you let go? Are there any you should add? I will be thinking as well. I think there’s a lot I want to add.

11.17.2011

A month gone by


Procrastination, my old acquaintance, you whom I welcome at the back porch door, you whom I let into my kitchen for a cup of coffee yet pretend I don’t recognize you when we meet on the street, you that cause me worry and frustration; you have been with me for many long years. Procrastination, you are the other dark side of perfectionism. You tell me that if something can’t be done perfectly well, one might as well not even start.   Exhibit one: this blog. I had a goal of writing one post per week, which felt to me a worthy, easily attainable yet manageable goal. I realized procrastination remained in my life when I saw that my last blog post was almost a month ago. What does it matter? Should I be concerned? Should I care?

Yes, I should. It’s important to set goals for oneself and to meet them.

No, I shouldn’t. It’s about grace.

Yes and no.

Is there a deeper question? Probably so. A few summers ago I accompanied Nathaniel to a conference that his family has attended regularly for years. At this conference, someone spoke words into my life that had to do with writing books and that these books would have influence. Since then, Nathaniel has reminded me of those words at different times. I brushed them off. What if I do decide to write and nothing happens? What if I decide to try to write a book and no one reads it but my family? What if I’m not a good writer after all?

So many questions. When I was small, I ONLY had questions. I wanted to know the whys and whos and whats of everything. Why is that tree so tall? Who lives in that cemetery? Why did they die? How old were they? Why is our car grey and that car blue? Why. How. What. I’m still questioning and asking.

I don’t know how often I will write. I may only have a small yet religious following among my family members. I may never get a six figure book advance. Sheesh.  How serious do I need to be? How far into the future do I need to live?

Here’s to another post,  one month after the last. No promises on when the next one will come, only a promise to be honest and real and (possibly) funny. 

10.26.2011

Positively



My husband started this blog for me to help me begin writing regularly again, and after a lengthy discussion about its name, we came to this: Positively Carrie.

I think this name sums up my outlook on life. Not that I’m forever singing: “Always look on the bright side of life,” while terrible things happen behind my back, but I am a naturally positive person, and I do try to find and see the good in people and situations. I’m predisposed to think the best of someone. My faith clearly leads me to this outlook.

Count it all joy, brethren, when you encounter trials and difficulties of many kinds, for you will see that trials develop perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3, NIV

In this verse, Paul doesn’t hide the fact that life is often hard and hard things happen. Instead, we are to count it all joy when these hard things occur, because they are developing in us something that couldn’t otherwise be there.

This is not to say that we should gloss over the fact that we are hurting or disappointed or unhappy. We don’t become na├»ve Pollyannas. I have friends that are struggling with cancer. I have friends that peered over the edge of the pit of divorce. I have friends that continue to deal with chronic illness, and others that struggle with huge financial problems. 


But even in all those difficulties, I know that there can be a greater good than what we see right in front of us. It may take us a while to see or find that good, but it is there. Life isn’t neatly partitioned into easy and hard, good and bad, dark and light.  My positive take on life comes from knowing that God is working through all things in my life and the lives of those I love.  What a beautiful promise.



10.18.2011

Beginnings


I loved my work. 
I loved being a teacher to students learning English. 
I was good at it. 


I poured so much of myself into my work that I would come home physically and mentally exhausted.  On breaks I would be thinking about the next project I would assign, or a better way to teach a unit, or what to do for a struggling student. 


But after nine years of teaching, I've hung up my teacher hat for now. Our beautiful daughter was born in April; I decided to give my notice in mid-May.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I went back and forth for months. Lists of pros and cons filled post-it notes and my brain at night. After that many years of teaching and loving my work, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with myself staying at home. I was confident, though, that I couldn’t work and be fully present with my daughter. Many mothers work. They’ve found a way to balance their home life and their career. They do it well. I didn’t see how I could.  I knew that I would always feel split between not doing enough for my job or for my family. I didn’t want to go back to work and feel that I had to choose to finish a project or be at home with my daughter and husband. So I chose. I chose the full-time job of caring for my daughter.


So now the transition has started. As in all lives, there will be amazing days and difficult days. As with all choices, there will be times I will wish I'd chosen differently. But I do know that my new life is good. Joy fills my heart. So here's to starting a new journey. 


Thanks for joining me.