Beyond Borders

courage. faith. action.


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Just to Finish Well.

31 days a writing challenge

 

It’s October 19th. This means I should be writing my 19th post for the 31 day series, but I am not. I am only on ten. I would love to say this is because we have been so busy there was barely time to breathe, that my migraines came and I had not felt good in over a week, that my three year old was beyond… well, beyond. And while all of this is true, these are not the only reasons I am behind.

There are two reasons I can name, apart from those listed above, that have kept me behind.

1. On day six, God threw me a curve ball. I know with every 31 days there is a lesson for me, something God wants to show me, but I always miss it. That is, until I write it out.  In the past it’s been nearly the whole month of writing before He reveals it to me, or before I actually see it. But this year, It was early in the writing, His teaching me about our unwillingness. That really took me a couple days to process and then put into words. This is where my behindness began. (I know. I sometimes make up words to fit my situations. It happens.)

2. In all the chaos of the past few weeks, as I began writing this series, I watched my self. Cluing in on my reactions and I learned I am not qualified to speak about finding quiet in the chaos. What gives me the authority to speak on a topic that I fail in on a daily basis?

Hold on. There are three reasons I am behind.

3. Being apart of a Facebook community for the write 31 day challenge. This group is packed full of some amazing and encouraging women, but, it is kind of intimidating. These women have beautiful blogs. Beautiful writing. They talk about their stats and their posts with the highest visitors. About getting comments and not getting comments. And I feel like I am 12 years old.

When reading back through my posts, I see all the misspelled words, grammar mistakes, incomplete thoughts. It’s like elementary school, where you have a topic and you have to write 3 paragraphs on the topic. Then the teacher marks your paper all up in red and you have to write again. Or, even more so, it feels like 5 minute Friday, you know, you write for 5 minutes with the prompt of one word? Five minutes and done. No editing. That’s the rules. Yeah it feels like that, except it’s five minutes everyday, because I just want to make it through the 31 days. I just want to say I finished.

But really, deep in my heart I want to finish well. I want to say out loud… I. Finished. Well. That I wrote the words God gave to me. That they were used for my purpose or even for someone else. I don’t want to write just to write. I don’t want to worry about stats and comments and traffic. I just want to write what God calls me to write. So I can say I finished well.

Ok, number three was a long one I know. And now I give you permission to call me a liar. Because I am. I am such a liar. There are four reasons I am behind. Four!

4. The fourth reason is this, just simply being behind. Because this being behindness (there is that word again) is creating chaos in my mind. Should I write a bunch of posts and get it all caught up at once. Or just keep posting one day at a time? Or write as I feel led to write? Am I being lazy? Am I just afraid? Am I playing the comparison game, again? Chaos, right?

As I ponder all these reasons, it is evident I am listening to voices that want to see me fail. Those that tell me I am not enough. That I am not good enough. And the one that really gets me, why start it because you will never finish. They flashback memories of the past and bind me to it. Bound in shackles of past accusations, long since proven false and my heart races to be free. It beats loud in my ears, reminding me of the only voice that speaks truth. If I would push aside the chaos for just a moment and listen to the quiet I will find the truth.

There are only two reasons listed above that have any merit. The first, I have been really busy. I am learning a new routine, as my oldest daughter is taking baby steps out into the world with voice lessons and dance lessons, and I with my youngest’s new diagnosis we now have 2-3 therapy appointments a week. I haven’t figured out the finesse to juggling a busy schedule and getting things done. This is new territory for me and I can’t seem to find my way through it yet.

The second, God threw me a curve ball. On day six! Wow! Day six! I know I I just said that, but yeah, I was not expecting that one. With this revelation of my unwillingness, I have to learn, I have practice my willingness. Daily. For the only way in finding quiet in the chaos is practice. Practice until it becomes habit. Practice until it becomes an involuntary behavior such as inhaling and exhaling.

All these other reasons are lies infiltrating my mind. Nothing more than my own self created chaos used to fill my already chaotic day. I know I don’t need anymore chaos. It’s not healthy. Nothing good comes from chaos. It’s time to refocus.

Remember the reason He called me to write for 31 days. Remember when I felt Him nudging me to publish my words in a public place. It wasn’t for building platforms or driving traffic, an especially not for me to worry over comments or followers. It was simply to share my story. Whether that be for my healing or someone else, it is simply to share my story. Because really this story is not mine to hold on to, it is His. It is His story that He has given to my life. It’s gospel. And He has called me to share it. He calls us all to share it.

 

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12:11

 

This is day ten in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.


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Some Days You Just Have to Let Go.

31 days a writing challenge

 

Calendars. I have several in my arsenal. My iPhone calendar, I use it only to for the ease of sharing our schedules and they are all tucked neatly in one place. But really this isn’t functional to me in the everyday. I have 3 school calendars. One with plans laid out for the week, one for daily schoolwork and field trips, and one to track the days we school. Yes, I am a homeschooling mom. I have a symptom tracker calendar to measure my health issues to report to my doctor. I have my dry erase calendar so I can see the whole month laid out in front of me, because I just need that old school visual hands on calendar, not just a bunch of dots that I have to click on to see what is planned that day.

With all these calendars one would think we would be organized. That schedules would run on time and we would make it to all of our appointments. That errands would be run and tasks completed each day as planned. You would think this would lessen the chaos. But in effect it can be quite the opposite.

When I try to hold tight to our schedule and plans for the day, it doesn’t leave room for the unexpected. No time for tired kids, sensory overload, migraines, allergies or for the simply off days where everything seems to go wrong. The more I struggle to stick to the plan the more power the chaos holds. The house fills with frustration and anxiety. Its not long before everyone feels it and the chaos is unleashed.

Some days you just have to let go of the day. Throw the calendar out the window. Let go of the expected and all the planned, because if not, you will soon be mourning the loss of a day. A day that could have been spent in the moment, being fully present in life instead of worrying that the day is slipping by and nothing is being crossed of the list. I have learned my calendars are simple guidelines for each day meant only for the purpose of helping me stay organized.

I am learning to be flexible. To bend with the day as it twists and turns. To be thankful for whatever and wherever it ends up when my head rests on my pillow each night.

 

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

 

This is day nine in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.


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When Sleep is a Gift.

31 days a writing challenge

 

It is too early to be awake. The house is dark and the sun is barely breaking the horizon. Yet we are awake. For some this is the norm, but for us it is not. Neither of our children have functional sleep patterns. Between the two of them there is a 4-6 hour window we can actually sleep.

sunrise in the dark

 

Sleep is definitely a gift in this house. Sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions, it is during sleep that our body repairs itself.

There are 5 stages in the sleep cycle. Stage 1 – falling asleep. Stage 2 – disengaging from your surroundings. Stage 3 – falling into deep sleep and beginning restorative functions. Stage 4 – deep sleep, most high level functions of the brain are shut down. Stage 5 – REM sleep. The areas of the brain that handle emotions and memory to become highly active.

During deep sleep your body is restoring itself from the damages that occurred during the day from toxins in our environment, hormones released from stress, toxins in our water and food, illness, etc. Research has shown that the brain needs at least 3 hours to shut down. That’s 3 hours of sleep minimum for your body to begin the process of repair.

Sleep is vital.

Without we cannot be prepared to handle the chaos the happens each day. We become impatient. Anxious. Frustrated. All of this only escalates the chaos. not just for us as parents, but for our children. When they have not slept enough their bodies react in chaos, perhaps even to the extreme. Every little thing becomes an irritant to them. It can be a vicious cycle, this lack of sleep.

But how do you find it when you live with dysfunctional sleep patterns? The answer is not easy for us. It is a matter of trial and error and being flexible. Creating an environment where sleep cycles correct. Taking turns on the awakening. And we are still seeking the solution.

In the mean time, a strong cup of coffee might just be in order.

 

This is day seven in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.

 

 


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But We Were Unwilling.

31 days a writing challenge

 

Our house is filled with chaos and it answers to many names. Autism. Aspergers. Obsessive Compulsive disorder. Sensory processing disorder. Celiac disease. Hormone imbalance. Migraines. Food allergies.

This chaos is like a vortex that sucks you in without warning, and there appears no way out. The more you struggle, the deeper you go, and you fear you might just drown. We fight against it, drawing escape plans, creating ways to wrangle it, but really there is no fighting it. It is uncontrollable. Unpredictable. Undeniable.

For years we have lived in this chaos. Always running just on the edge of that vortex and for years we have continuously been sucked right into it.  We always say we need to find a way to stop this. We need to learn how to live. We need to learn how to stop the chaos.

This is where we erred. 

These things we bundle together and call chaos, they cannot be stopped. Sure we have doctors, therapists, medications; all tools to assist us in the chaos. But this chaos is and will always be a part of our lives. The answer is not in finding a way of stopping the chaos to find quiet, but finding the quiet in the chaos.

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, Isaiah 30:15 (ESV)

This verse in its context is a warning to the rebellious. To those who have light, but choose darkness. Thinking themselves wiser than God and pursuing their own measures to salvation, but this path leads only to hasten their ruin.

This is where we erred. 

We rebelled. We took matters into our own hands and we sought to put an end to our chaos, instead of embracing it and turning toward the only one who could provide true quiet in the chaos. We rebelled. We were unwilling.

Pulpit Commentary puts it oh so perfectly for our circumstance.

“in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; in a quiet submission to the will of God, and in quietly waiting upon him for the issue and event of things, abiding in their own houses, and not in a hurrying tumultuous manner, running here and there for help; and in a holy and humble confidence in the Lord, and in the power of his might, where they should find such strength and security”

In all of our church going, bible reading and prayers, we have not simply sought Him for the quiet. In all of our hurrying and running we created more chaos. How simple would it be to return to God and seek Him in our chaos?  

To trust in His promise that  in returning and rest, you shall be saved, not the salvation we already have in Christ, but salvation from our chaos. Not that it be removed, but in that returning to Him, resting in Him, being quiet and waiting on Him would we not find quiet in our chaos?

 

Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 32:18

 

This is day six in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.


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Braving the Chaos.

31 days a writing challenge

 

The breeze blew cool on this early fall morning. The air was crisp and the leaves were quietly rustling in the gentle breeze and I did not miss for a moment that they are slowing into quiet, preparing for winter to come. The sky was a brilliant blue. It always seems so vivid in autumn. Today we decided to create quiet. We were intentional and we braved the chaos. And it was a success.

 

sky

 

 

In being intentional, today I am taking a break from the writing, but am leaving you with the scripture that is the inspiration for my forthcoming post tomorrow.  I hope you will check back in with me tomorrow, it’s going to be good.

 

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling
Isaiah 30:15

 

This is day five in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.

 


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When the Soul Breathes Quiet.

31 days a writing challenge

 

It is Saturday morning and thanks to my wonderful husband, I got to sleep in for a bit. This sleep was much needed as the week was full of on the go errands and endless nights of toddlers not wanting to sleep and then waking much too early.

One thing my body does not do well is handle and process stress. Whether it be physical or emotional it does not recover well. It may takes days to gain back strength from one day spent running errands. Even with the extra sleep this morning my body is tired, longing to crawl right back into that bed. Every muscle fatigued and bones aching, my body sits in a slump as I type. My fingers stop every few words and rest. Oh how they long for rest.

Knowing the toll that physical and emotional stress take on my body makes it that much more important to find the quiet in the chaos. Not just the quiet that gives my body rest. But the quiet that gives way to freedom. The quiet that unlocks your spirit and allows your soul to breathe.

Without this quiet no other form of quiet will be satisfying.

This quiet takes place only when you are practicing the presence of God. When every moment of your life is filled with the acknowledgement that He is in control. No matter the storm that is raging around you, He. Is. In. Control. That no matter what is happening in your life it is of no surprise to God.

This practice takes practice. Every single day. If you do not take time seeking His presence in the good and quiet times, it will be difficult to find Him in the chaos. It is that simple and it is that complicated.

The complicated :: Finding the time to seek Him when each day begins with chaos as soon as your feet the floor.
The simple :: Make a plan. Make it flexible enough to bend around the chaos. Flexible enough to squeeze in the cracks of a day that is running at full speed. Stick to your plan.

Finding the way that brings you into His presence, is unique to all of us. In his study of Philippians, Matt Chandler said for him to feel near to God, to feel His presence, he needs to study the Word, really study it. Spreading all the reference books and commentaries across his desk and digging in deep. But, he has a friend that just turns on his music, whether listening or playing he worships and this is all He needs to draw close to God. Just as we are uniquely created, finding our way into His presence is equally unique.

Let’s stop for a moment. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying we are not to be reading God’s word daily. Because we are, it is the only way to get through life. Right now I am talking only of what little thing you can do to bring Him close to you, right in the middle of your chaos.

I know what the simple things that draw me close to Him, much like Matt Chandler’s friend, it only takes a note of a song, a string of words, the sunlight coming in slanted, the rustle of the leaves as the gentle breeze blows, and I see Him. My breath slows, shoulders release as I feel Him pull me even closer. Because I looked for Him. In all the chaos, I sought Him out with all my heart. I have my eyes wide open and my ears tuned to His whispers.

And just like that, there is quiet in the chaos.

 

This is day four in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.


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Releasing the Unfinished.

31 days a writing challenge

 

I am kind of a word nerd. So when I sat down to write my post for today, I grabbed the dictionary to find the definition of quiet. I thought if  I am writing about it for 31 days, I should probably know what it really means, right? When I think of quiet the first thing that comes to mind is “without noise.” A quiet child. A quiet room. But there is much more to this 5 letter word than a hushed child.

The word quiet belongs to many parts of speech; noun, adjective, adverb, verb, each with it’s own definition, but all similar in nature. Then there is the transitive verb. What is a transitive verb you ask? We all know verbs are action words, well a transitive verb is an action word that has an object that specifically receives that action. Confused?

 Read this sentence…

I baked some cookies.

 

Now let’s break it down…

“I” :: pronoun, the subject

“baked” :: transitive verb, the action

“cookies” noun, the object receiving the action.

I performed the action of baking. Baking what? What received the action? The cookies. You can see this in sentences such as I played the piano. She smelled the roses. He hit the ball.

See how that works? Transitive verbs always have an object receiving an action.

Ok, grammar lesson done.

 

Quiet

transitive verb  :  to make secure by freeing from dispute or question (merriam-webster)

 

In all honesty our home and our lives always seem to be in a state of chaos. There are not many days that we make it through without a sensory meltdown, migraine, or some other form of misread behavior. Trips to the grocery store can take hours. and you count on the 3 year old screaming, climbing out of the cart, or throwing items from the cart. The 12 year old does everything she can to calm her. She wants everything to run smooth and everyone to be happy. But she can’t control it. And many times her senses overwhelm and she flees in frustration. Inside our house, there is always toys to be found in every nook and cranny, dishes in the sink, laundry waiting to be transformed. The vacuum cleaner stands by in the living room just waiting to be called to duty. It hasn’t seen its home in the closet for well over a year.

This is our normal. This is our everyday chaos. This is where we long for quiet.

But today, I realized there is something greater that binds us in shackles while it robs us of our quiet. We let the words of others seep into our lives. We listen to their silent judgment. They make us question our decisions. But these are our children. They have special needs. Those needs can create chaos, but they also crate beauty. How can they not know the beauty that is found in our chaos? Because to put it mildly, our chaos upsets their quiet.

Whether it is someone who is a part of our lives or the strangers we see in public places, each one of them has an opinion of what really is going on in our lives. It doesn’t matter if it is whispered words of what they would do different, stares of disapproval and shaking heads at the checkout counter, it is all the same. Their opinions. To them it seems our children are spoiled and misbehaving, and we have no control of them. But they are not. Neither intend to be defiant, be disruptive, or meltdown. Don’t get me wrong they both have the natural instinct, as does every child, to push their boundaries, but in most instances their bodies are frustrated. They cannot communicate what they are feeling because they don’t understand what is causing the frustration and the result is not pretty.

We allow these words and actions to seep into our minds, they strike us deep and cause pain and anxiety. We dwell on them much too long. We begin to question our decisions, our doctors and our therapies, our instincts. We feel the grip of the shackles as they tighten and we fight to be free. So why do we do it? Why do we let these people cause us much turmoil? Because we want them to see us. We want to know that they support us. We want them to understand us.

But this is where that transitive form of quiet comes in – to make secure by freeing from dispute or questions. Does this not infer that we could be free from the anxiety and the chaos it creates? If we stood firm in our convictions and choices; and remember that every decision and action was not without much thought, research and prayer, could we not live out the transitive verb of quiet?

To make secure (calm the anxiety) by freeing (breaking the shackles) from dispute or question (the comments, looks and stares)? It is a choice. I imagine what that looks like…

We quieted the chaos by believing in ourselves. Believing God. And there was freedom.

 

This post feels far from being finished. But learned this week about releasing and that is exactly what I am going to do.

 

This is day three of 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To read all of the posts in this series click here.