Edits of the Heart

Yesterday I sat here for the first time in a long time and tapped out words. I wrote a little about the last year of life and put pieces of my heart in black ink on the page. And then, as I often do, I left what I wrote looking back at me in draft form—finger hovering over “Publish” but never actually pushing the button. I wasn’t sure, so I waited and in the end I scrapped it and decided not to share those words after all.

It’s a new day, crisp with fall wrapping around us in colorful leaves, chili simmering on the stove top, and hot cups of coffee. Today I find myself here again…tapping out words. Today I’m thinking about the unspoken words of yesterday and the ways we edit hearts and thoughts before exposure to an audience. Isn’t it funny how we are? How we perhaps share vulnerable bits and pieces of our hearts and lives with others but never actually tell quite the whole story. I have spoken much truth here, I’ve never lied in this space, but I edit and backspace and sanitize those truths until I’m comfortable with them and comfortable sharing them with others.

Yesterday Roman attacked the computer because he is 1 year old and is always attacking everything. My words, my unedited words, were up on the screen and I thought he might have posted them in all his toddler shenanigans. My heart skipped a beat thinking of my thoughts and words being made public before I went back over them to pick and choose and carefully rearrange what I was trying to say. Today it just seems silly to be so afraid of my own unedited heart being laid bare but still the fear is there.

I think the over-analyzing and uncertainty is exactly what’s kept me away from this space for so long. This has been a hard season of life and one I don’t know how to share.

Do you know how it feels when you get into water too deep? I can feel the ocean floor with my tippy toes, sand moving beneath my feet but not holding me steady. I can feel the waves lapping my chin and nose, leaving just enough room to breath before I lose my footing and drown.

I’m afraid of the ocean because that’s how it feels to me when I stand in its hungry waves—like I’ll lose my footing and go under. So I don’t go in, I walk along the edge and get my feet wet, just avoiding the ocean’s grasp. But during this season of life, I fell in—sand shifting beneath my unsteady feet, waves pulling me under. I fought to hold my head above water and just not sink—not swim, just not sink.

But…but…there are so many people in my life right now who have it so much harder. So it hasn’t felt right to say anything about my own life when it’s still smooth sailing compared to the next person. And yet, it hasn’t felt right either to skip along and make things sound better than they are. So I’ve simply fallen silent instead—saying nothing over saying some half-truth or washed out version of reality.

But my heart is hungry for words. Words are always a pulsing, beating part of my soul and I can’t seem to organize my thoughts without them. When I am quiet in public, I am loud in writing my thoughts down privately. There is never silence, never an end to the words that help me think, and be, and make sense of it all. I think the public silence has been good for me; a necessary season when everything else in my life has been so loud.

Today, I’m tap, tap, tapping out my thoughts and I like the way the keys feel beneath my fingers—the way the black words look popping up against the blank white. I miss writing and communicating and I hope I find my way back now that life has begun to quiet down for a time. We will see.

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The Vulnerability to Pray

9d883252495e0bafba09370dbdbd643dNot long ago I sat in a room of people sharing prayer requests with each other and noticed something: Most every request was about someone else, not the person sharing it. This made me think, how much easier it is for us to share the needs and vulnerabilities of others than it is to share the needs and vulnerabilities of our own hearts and lives.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing a request for someone else—generally, these requests are shared sincerely with genuine concern and most people are happy to know others are praying for them in a time of need. But still, why is it so hard for us to say things about ourselves like:

“I’m struggling with…”

“I’m hurting from…”

“I need help with…”

“Please pray for me.”

Prayer is a humbling thing. Prayer is an acknowledgement of need for help from a power higher than us. When I pray, I confess that I can’t…I can’t for myself, I can’t for those I’m concerned about. Prayer acknowledges that only God can and so we turn our hearts to him in prayer asking that he would.

So admitting to others what I can’t do, can’t control—this is a humbling thing. How much easier it is to ask for prayer on behalf of someone else I know who’s hurting or in need. How much safer to keep my own needs and vulnerabilities to myself.

And yet, what power there is in prayer and in humbling ourselves enough to pray with sincerity and vulnerability. How much better could I know and pray for my friends and family if they were willing to say, “I’m struggling with…” “I need help with…”.

I’m not a fan of vulnerability. No, I would rather feel safe. I would rather take my own needs and concerns directly to God and leave everyone else out. Thankfully, I do have direct access to pray but that’s not how God intended the church to work exclusively.

God meant for us to need and help each other. He meant for us to know each other beyond the surface, down to the very heart and soul. But if we are too proud to be open and honest with each other we will never know or understand the depth of help and support we could truly offer in life and in prayer. I can’t help with a need I don’t know about or pray for a concern that’s never been shared. The more we keep to ourselves, the less we can offer in prayerful support.

This is a hard lesson for me. I would like to pretend it’s not something I need to work on. But the truth is, 90% of the time when asked how I’m doing, I just say, “fine”—whether that’s the truth or not. It’s easier, it’s safer…but it’s not the way God meant for me to relate to others.

I had a close friend ask me recently what the best and worst thing is in my life right now—simple questions that lead to deep answers about what brings me the most joy and most heartache in my life right now. She answered the same two questions and I learned a lot about what she’s going through and how I can better pray for the needs of her heart right now. This again got me thinking about how important honesty and transparency are if we truly want to know and help each other beyond the surface. How thankful I am for friends who see through my cheerful “I’m fine” and “good” when asked how I’m doing and push me towards truth and honesty.

Though it’s scary, it’s also so very good to be known. I feel the most loved by the people who know me best…the people who have seen me at my worst and know the things about my heart I would share with no one else. Really, there is much safety in vulnerability for here we find out who we can trust and are most loved by.

So don’t be afraid to humble yourself and tell the truth about the needs in your life. Though it’s scary, you will likely find many around you are happy to pray and help as best they can if only you are willing to let them in.

Your Joy is Your Strength

11199399_1581552952122173_1678725977_nI keep meaning to get on here and write but apparently my baby can climb the steps now, so ya. Also, it’s 85 degrees out. I know it’s been summer everywhere else in the country for like two months, but seriously you guys— EIGHTY FIVE DEGREES. Sometimes I just have to go outside barefoot for a few minutes before I can sit down calm enough to write.

The other day I was walking around the block pushing Roman in his stroller. It had been a rough day, rough week…a really rough winter and season of life if I’m being honest. While I walked, I kept thinking about this verse, “…the joy of the LORD is your strength” {Nehemiah 8:10}.

I struggle with being a joyful person. I tend to be a pessimist and often see the negative in a situation before I catch sight of the good. I have good days when I feel positive and hopeful but even more days when I struggle with seeing the hope, joy, and light all around me.

So I mulled over this verse and thought about what it means for me on the days when I’m weighed down and overwhelmed, when I’m struggling against the darkness and missing the light.

I thought about strength and finding strength in joy. Strength—I’ve been tired lately, more tired than I was when Roman was just born. And the idea of strength for my days and the tasks before me—that is something I’m searching for.

It didn’t make sense to me, how joy could give me strength. But the more I mull over these words, the better I understand just how true they are. It’s hard to feel discouraged when I choose to focus my thoughts on God and all his mercy and gifts to me. Even when I’m tired, discouraged, overwhelmed—remembering all God has brought me through, all he has given me—these things fill my mind with joy and it is true, that in that joy, there is strength. When I am consciously choosing to think right—choosing joy—I am encouraged and find the strength I need for that day.

Of course I still have bad days, I’m not happy or encouraged all the time. But I’m finding that I have a lot of power over my own thinking and the way I choose to think greatly impacts my mood and the way I choose to live each day. If I choose to dwell on those things that frustrate and discourage me, then it’s no surprise when I find myself discouraged and overwhelmed. But if I choose to dwell on all the good and hope in my life each day, there is strength and joy enough even for the hard things.

So I’m learning, learning to choose joy. Learning to control my own thoughts and beliefs about life rather than being tossed around by difficult and changing circumstances.

My joy, the joy of the Lord, is my strength—it’s not just a saying or a pretty verse, it’s a way of thinking and living and there is so much hope to be found in living a life filled with joy, strength, and peace rather than gloom and discouragement.

Inspiration vs. Jealousy

If all goes as planned {and it never does}, we’re supposed to be moving into our house this summer. After years of looking for the right place, saving money, and now two years of rebuilding and remodeling–we’re finally almost there.

IMG_20150310_195322{“Um guys, this house doesn’t look super done.”}

But as I think about moving, I’ve been thinking too about how much I should share here and elsewhere on social media when it comes to the details of our new home. There’s a big part of me that wants to take lots of pictures and include people in this journey {especially those of you who’ve already been following the bits and pieces I’ve shared along the way}. But there’s an equal part of me that’s unsure if sharing is really the right thing to do.

Here’s why:

We’ve all heard about and dealt with the jealousy that comes with watching someone else’s life via social media. We talk about it, read articles about it, complain about it, and deal with it in our own lives–jealousy. People’s lives can look so perfect and put together on Facebook when the mess has been cropped out of the background and the right filter makes everyone look tan. You’ve done, I’ve done it, and we all kind of know everyone else is doing it too–but still, we see those pictures sometimes and think, “They get everything. My life sucks.”

I remember feeling this way on Valentine’s Day when Darren was helping our new renters move into the apartment we had just remodeled {unexpectedly, right in the middle of our house remodel} and so I didn’t get any roses or get to go out to dinner and spent that whole day feeling very, very, VERY sorry for myself. And rather than be a grownup and stay away from social media for the day, I instead scrolled through Facebook and Instagram and envied all the pictures of flowers, and date night, and all those freaking people who were so stupidly in love… ;]

So I worry that by sharing pictures of our home, people are only going to see the end product of years of work and envy us or think we get everything handed to us while they struggle along. People don’t see the work and stress and everything that’s gone into making this dream of ours come true–I know that because I know I look at other people’s lives and pictures the same way–I see one picture and one moment and don’t know or consider the rest of the story leading up to that one happy, enviable moment.

So, is it right to share only the pretty bits and pieces of a much bigger story and perhaps by doing so create feelings of envy along the way? I realize I can’t control how other people react–someone else’s jealousy is ultimately, their problem. But still, I don’t want to be one of those people on social media who overshares.

And then there’s privacy. My home is where I live, where my baby lives, it’s the most intimate space I inhabit. So should it then be shared publicly? Though I’ve blogged for years, I’ve felt much more private and unsure of sharing ever since Roman was born. There is something about knowing you are totally responsible for another person’s life that makes you stop and think a little bit harder about everything you do–including how much you share about them on social media. So I wonder now if it’s safe or smart to share our home in a space like this or if it’s better left off the internet and kept private just for us.

Those are the cons, but I see some pros too…

I get so much inspiration and enjoyment from seeing how and where other people live. My favorite blogs are by people who share their homes and lives and invite you in. Yes, sometimes on a bad day, I’ll see someone else’s home or life on a blog and envy them. But for the most part, I just enjoy reading stories and seeing pictures of how other people live. I’ve gotten so much inspiration for our own home by seeing the ideas of others and I would be really disappointed if these people decided to stop sharing. This makes me want to share pictures of my own home and life {even if it’s just a fragment of the whole story} and invite people in {even if it’s just through a word or picture}.

So I’m asking you sincerely, what do you think? Do you think it’s right to share put together pictures of our not-so-put together lives? Is it safe or smart to share a place as intimate and private as my home on the internet when I can’t control who will then know where I live? Do you like seeing other people’s homes and lives or does it just lead to envy and frustration?

Seasons.

Life is full of seasons, made up of seasons. There are seasons of abundance and joy and dry seasons when the soul is weary and parched. It reminds me of the land I grew up on in Missouri and the way we talked about the weather like it was money–because rain, too much or too little of it, could mean everything to a successful crop and harvest.

This winter season feels like the longest I’ve ever experienced. I usually declare it spring as soon as we’ve poked our toes across the line into March but there doesn’t seem much point in doing that this year with the snow still falling and forecasted as far out as we can see. This winter has been made up of long days cooped up in the house taking care of a baby and long nights waiting for Darren to get home from work and class. And I’m starting to feel a little parched, dried up, in need of some cleansing rain.

I’ve been discouraged, tired, overwhelmed. I’m ready to be done with winter, done with house remodeling, done with busy days that keep my little family from being together and enjoying each other.

I want to quit.

But I remembered yesterday, that life is made up of seasons–seasons of abundance and dry seasons without rain.

This discouragement, this weariness, this wanting to give up and walk away–this is just a season without rain. Seasons change. Winter, no matter how stubborn, always gives way to spring. The flowers always poke through, even if they must first poke up through the snow.

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I’m thankful that seasons come and go, ebb and flow in and out of life like the tide. I’m thankful that the longest, darkest night always gives way to dawn. But I’m even more thankful that right in the middle of the dark and dry spells, there is water and light and hope. There is God. And God doesn’t change, he doesn’t ebb and flow or fluctuate. I don’t need my life or circumstances to change in order to be refreshed–I can be refreshed right here in the desert by a God who always brings light and hope and renewal.

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Soon, the snow will melt. I will feel the sunshine on my skin and be able to go outside and stretch my legs. I can’t wait. But until then, I’m using these cooped up winter days to find the light and rain I need in my soul. This season will pass. I will look back at this winter and these first months as a mother and see this time I’m now in from a different vantage point. I have to remind myself of that–that this is a season. No matter how overwhelming a day or period may be, it will pass, it will change. And even when I’m in the middle of a long, discouraging stretch without change, God is always the same–always present, always renewing, always what my parched soul truly needs for actual, lasting change.

The Good Stuff

I have noticed something lately and it’s this: On the flip side of almost every complaint is something to be thankful for.

For instance:

I have bills to pay but that means I have a home and electricity.

I am buried in laundry but that means I have more than enough clothes to wear.

I have to get up and go to work but that means I have a job.

Gas is expensive but the fact that I think about it means I have a car to put it in.

My family is far away but I love them enough to miss them and care about the distance.

I am tired but that {usually} means I’ve been productive and accomplished a thing or two.

I have to cook dinner but that means I have food to eat.

I get hurt sometimes but that means I have the capacity to love and am close enough to people to get hurt.

I could go on but you get the idea. Lately I’ve noticed in myself the tendency to be negative, to grumble and complain. But I know better, I know I’ve been given so much and have so very much to be thankful for. I’m trying to have a more positive attitude and to see the good in what I normally find to complain about. So here’s to seeing the good and beautiful on the flip side of life.

Be Like the Bird

Sometimes I’m afraid to embrace change. Even if I’m not happy with the way things are, I’m afraid a change might leave me even more unhappy so I just leave things alone instead. But change and discomfort is often the road to growth and renewal. Sometimes we have to release our iron grasp on what we have to open our hands up, empty and ready, to something different and new.

I look back at my life, at the times when I let go of one thing and took hold of another, and I see how those times of risk and change helped me grow and move forward. And I think too that even if something hadn’t worked out the way I hoped, I still would likely have regretted not taking the chance more than I would have regretted the potential failure.

Right now I find myself in a holding pattern, afraid to move, afraid to try, afraid to speak—and it isn’t like me to be so paralyzed by fear. Why am I so afraid to move forward, to change, to speak? I don’t know.

I find this blog stands before me a frightful blank canvas and I’m so cautious to put up words, to speak my heart and open my soul in this space as I once did. I’m trying to face the fear, to say the words, to put myself out here once again.

I’ve hidden behind pictures and fluff but I thank you for your patience as I find my way back to the words, to the heart and soul of this space.

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” Victor Hugo

Don’t Look Back

Sometimes I look back at who I was a year ago or five years ago and I’m embarrassed by some of the things I said or did. The advent of social media doesn’t help either because now if my memory fails me, Facebook and even this blog will be here to remind me of my less than stellar self. Super.

Sometimes I want to gather up everyone who knew me before right now and apologize for all the stupid thing I ever said or did. I feel this urgency to explain to people that I’m different now, that I’m sorry and I’ve changed.

This is great except I’ll probably look back ten years from now at the person I am today and want to apologize all over again.

You see, if I’m moving in the right direction then hopefully I’m always growing and changing from who I am today into a more loving, mature person tomorrow. That’s a good thing. The bad thing is looking back and remembering who I was at a different place in the story. But what I’m trying to remember is this: There’s no need to be ashamed of who you were yesterday if you are becoming a better person today.

Yes, I’m sorry for some of the things I said or did in the past and I do hope people know that. But at the same time I’m glad to be aware of what I did wrong because hopefully that means I’ve learned and grown and am not still making the same mistakes today.

So don’t be ashamed of who you were; be proud of who you are becoming. If you can’t be proud of who you are becoming, then worry about that instead of the past.

“…But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

Our Real Lives

Sometimes, as much as I love blogging, the whole thing feels a little less than genuine to me. I obviously only share parts of myself here with you. I try to be open and honest in this space but you can only get so much of the whole picture from the occasional words and pictures I share.

I also try to be positive on my blog because honestly, who wants to read about someone else’s problems all day? I want this space to be beautiful and inspiring so I only share those things that I hope you will connect with and be inspired by. But in so doing I leave out a lot of the truth and always feel like a little bit of a fraud.

This is challenging because I find myself reading my favorite blogs and sometimes I get a little discouraged thinking other people have so much more going for them than I ever will. I look at all their pretty pictures and eat up stories of their adventures and I start to think I must be a complete loser compared to them.

But the truth is these people I admire are only sharing a part of themselves with me—just like I only share a part of myself with you. However beautiful anyone’s life may look, we all have problems, hurts, discouragements, and a whole world of history that has made us who we are.

I have to remind myself of that when I read about other people’s lives online.

I enjoy social media—Facebook, blogs, Pinterest… It’s all good in its place but it’s important to remember how much more there is behind all the pretty pictures and words. There is a lot more going on in my life than I can ever share with you here. But I still want to share with you what I can. I want to tell you my stories and show you my pictures—even if these stories and pictures only give you a glimpse and not the whole story.

There are lots of good things going on in my life right now. As I shared with you not long ago, Darren and I just bought an old house we are remodeling and we are so excited about moving out into the country.

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Earlier this week we planted a big vegetable garden and the other night we pulled an old piano bench outside and sat under the stars planning and dreaming of life in this new place. While we were sitting there the most incredible shooting star I have ever seen zipped by with a trail of flame behind it…I actually gasped out loud—it was that amazing.

In just a few days we leave for Europe. Europe! We have been saving for years and now we finally get to take off and see Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, and England! Holy moly kids…I can’t even tell you how excited I am.

I look forward to sharing all these little adventures with you here over the summer. But in doing so I just wanted to remind you (and myself) that these are just pieces of our lives. The rest of my life involves sitting at a desk doing paperwork, cleaning the house, cooking, grocery shopping, bill paying, blah blah blah. I don’t sit here and tell you about the day-to-day because that would bore me to tears and I don’t want to do the same to you. But the laundry and the paperwork…that is very much my real life whether I share it here or not.

Life is good but it isn’t good every second of every day and it isn’t just pretty pictures and big adventures. Life is beautiful and messy and so much more than the individual parts we share. That’s it. That’s all. Love Kari :]

Why Do You Read the Blogs You Do?

What is it about a particular blog that draws you in and makes you want to read more? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately: Why do I read some blogs and skip over others?

For me it comes down to whether or not I’m interested in and inspired by the person behind the blog.

My favorite blog is by a girl named Aura and I can’t get enough of her writing and photography—but why? She’s just a person telling stories and sharing snap shots of her life so why do I care what this stranger does with her days?

I care because I’m fascinated and inspired by her. I’m inspired by all the beauty she creates in her life and fascinated by the way she lives. Watching her life through the stories and pictures shared on her blog inspire me to go out and do more with myself—and I like that.

Another one of my favorite bloggers/artists is Katie Daisy. Katie is my favorite artist because what she creates fascinates and inspires me—just like Aura’s words and photos do. I love the way Katie combines colors and textures into whimsical little paintings and her work makes me want to transform everything around me into something dripping with color and beauty.

I also read blogs that resonate with me and the way I live.

Blogs about nature and the outdoors, photography and art, faith and family—these are just a few of the things that speak deeply to me and draw me into the writing of others with similar interest.

Both Aura and Katie are Midwest girls who grew up in the prairies of Oklahoma and Illinois. The words they write and the art they create resound deeply with my love for the prairies. I feel connected to these artists in a way because we each share a deep love of this one common thing—the flatlands, the woods, the birds and trees…the places and things that speak to us about where we are from and who we have become.

Both of these artists inspire me to create more beauty in my life. They inspire me to live better, write better, and create from a place deep inside my soul that is genuine and true.

There are very few bloggers who reach me in this way but whenever I come across someone who does, I can’t get enough of their words and stories. I want to dive into their world and understand everything that makes them who they are. I want to go away from their words and pictures and create something just as beautiful and inspiring with my own words and stories.

What draws you into a blog? What determines who your favorite writers and artists are?