Friday, June 17, 2016

Brave when I am angry

This is not something I particularly want to admit but I have been feeling angry lately. A lot. Frustrated, burned out, defeated, ready to give up, angry. 

Brave when I feel angry means admitting it, even when I feel a little bit ashamed of myself for responding to my so-very-good life like this. 

Brave when I feel angry means dropping the defenses, letting my hands fall weakly to my lap and admitting that I'm struggling right now. That I totally lost it with my son and was strait up harsh with my daughter. 

I feel a little bit like I'm drowning in kids and what I feel is rage. I'm super-frustrated by how quickly the days are going by and how little is getting done. I'm exhausted by the 24x7x6 parenting that I am doing by myself because my husband is working long hours right now. 

I keep asking God "What does it mean to be brave in this moment?" For me, right now, it means to go to God, openly honestly and allow myself to be comforted. I expected Him to be mad at me for being mad at my kids, but instead the Holy Spirit offered comfort. 

Now I need to turn around and offer that comfort to my kiddos.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Brave when I'm overwhelmed

am strait-up, flat-out overwhelmed right now. I have got SO much going on these days just trying to keep up with my kiddos. Some days I feel like I'm a human pinball machine and I am just so done right now.

So here I crawl under my covers and I'm asking myself "what does it mean to be brave in this moment? what does it mean to be brave when I'm just so overwhelmed I can't stand it.

For one thing - it means doing exactly what I'm doing now. Go to bed. Like now. When I'm overwhelmed I try to make sure I'm getting enough sleep, which means getting to bed on time. And actually going to sleep, not scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest till 1am. 

It means I have to set some boundaries, saying "no" even to good things because I am a mess if there is too much going on all at the same time. It means leaving and guarding the margin in my days and in my mind and heart and bank account, so that I'm not totally maxed out. 

It might mean that I need to ask for help  I'm truly terrible at asking for help, but sometimes I at least text my friends and ask them to pray for me and this helps more than you'd think. 

But I think the bravest thing we can do when we are feeling overwhelmed is to stay open to others. Open to other people's pain and needs.  Yes, I may be feeling at the end of my rope but that doesn't mean that I should roll myself up into a little ball. 

So that's what I'm thinking about tonight. How about you?

Monday, June 6, 2016

When I ought to be happy... but I'm not


Summer is sunshine and long days and late nights. Summer is celebration and happy colors and friends. Summer is freedom from the demands of a schedule, it's sitting poolside and popsicles and isn't it supposed to be fun? This week I've been over here like "this is supposed to be fun! I'm supposed to be happy! What's wrong with me? Why am I not happy?!"

This week I've had to embrace the grace for this transition. I've been able to look at myself and say "I'm not happy. This is hard for me. I sometimes struggle with transitions, but I'm confident that before long I'll hit a new stride and we'll be okay. It's okay that I'm not loving every minute of this. It won't be like this forever". 

So right now I'm here offering the sympathetic hugs and the metaphorical fist bump as we transition to the summer. 

For better or worse here are a couple of things I'm trying to do during this transition, aside from letting myself off the hook: 

Adjust expectations 
My husband works in HVAC. He literally got home from work last night at ten o'clock and he had to turn away work in order to get home that early. He came home, took a shower and went to bed. After a long day of full-contact parenting yes, I would have liked for him to be home earlier eaten dinner with us and taken over for a little while. But during this busy season of work that's an unrealistic expectation. If my expectation is that he's going to be working long hours this summer then resentment won't have a chance to rob me of my joy. 

I also choose to lay down the expectation that my kids are going to get along every single moment of every single day and that my teenagers are going to have good attitudes - we're all humans here and we're all going to have bad days and grumpy moments. It's okay.

Gather moments of gratitude 
It is important for me to keep some kind of gratitude journal when I'm stressed out. I sometimes find my internal monologue becoming a list of everything that went wrong today. Choosing to try to notice the good things that happens during the day helps me change that inner monologue to one of gratitude instead of disappointment or exasperation or STRESS. 

Plan for joy
I am guilty of going in auto-pilot during busy times. I sometimes find that I've spent all day at home with my kids but I haven't really spent any quality time with my kids. I've talked at them all day but there wasn't a lot of time for hugs or smiles or encouraging words. I've been trying to ask myself "how can I plan for joy" for example one night I got out some balloons and turned on some happy music. Other times it's been pancakes for dinner and a dance party in the kitchen. It's not something that comes naturally for me but it's something I'm trying to get better at. 

Create rhythms in the day 
for example: for better or worse we have been watching Kung Fu Panda: legends of awesomeness the cartoon on Hulu almost every night before bed. It gives me a moment with the kids to just sit before the bedtime debacle. It also gets the kids calm(er) at the end of the day and it brings us together. It would be awesome if we were gathering around something more meaningful but this is my real life. 

I am also attempting to keep meal times at about the same time, our moments of going out and staying home and being quiet at around the same time every day. Not all days follow the pattern but I try to keep a simple block schedule even during the summer. I feel better, and I think so do the kids. 

Get outside 
it might seem like a no-brainier but here in the Deep South it is sometimes easy to choose air conditioning over sunshine - but getting outside every day always makes everyone a little bit more cheerful. The boys are less hyper and the girls are less grumpy. Sometimes when I'm just totally Loosing My Mind this is my go-to move.
  
Here are a couple of resources that have fallen into my lap this week that I thought I'd share. 
Emily P Freeman is offering 7 days of still moments of pause. I highly recommend them.
Jess Connolly is offering some worksheets "Summer Guide to THRIVE"

Thursday, June 2, 2016

What filter am I using?


I had one of those lightbulb moments earlier today as I was posting a picture to Instagram -  I chose a filter and posted it and in that moment I felt the Holy Spirit ask me - what filter am I choosing for my life?! For better or worse Instagram is a big part of my life - maybe not in minutes or dollars but for sure in happiness. I get a lot of enjoyment from sharing my life in pictures and a sense of satisfaction from seeing what others share about their lives.

The other week I was watching the  Hope Writers series, and something that Ruth from Grace Laced  said to Myquillyn aka The Nester during one of the interviews has stuck with me. She said she edits her images similarly and usually uses the same filters for her images to give her feed a sense of continuity. Since then I've found myself using the same filter on almost every image, even images I would usually leave unfiltered because of this little tip that she suggested. 

And I wonder how I do that in my real life? Do I see my life through the filter of someone who is blessed and dearly loved or am I too stressed out by what is in front of my face to notice that my filter had turned dark? Am I filtering my daily life through the truth of God's word or am I allowing the enemy of my soul to rob me of perspective? 

I have been thinking more and more about the importance of living life LOVED. How it will change what I expect of my husband, how I respond to my kids, and how I react to the stress, the frustrations and disappointment of life. I am loved by my good good Father - that is the filter through which I want to be viewing my life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New blog post!

In my last blog post I mentioned that I was expanding my blogging platform to include fiction. Today I hit publish on my first fiction book recommendation at FaithRaiderFiction.blogspot.com. So if fiction reading is something you're interested in and you can never get enough book recommendations and reveiws then be sure to jump over there and subscribe to future blog posts!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Changing...

I don't know if you noticed that I changed my header for the blog? I changed from Sweet Violet to my name: Faith Raider. It has been a HUGE hurdle for me to get over using my name as my anything online but it was time. I reached out, asked the question to someone I trusted and got some super loving feedback saying, basically "yes. Use your name. It's lovely." So here I am - as me.

One more thing that I did was set up a new blog that is just my name that will become my devotional/Bible Study blog so that Faith R Photog can go back to being a photography blog and my writing can all be in one place. I also created a blog for fiction writing, because it's okay to be more than just one thing. Maybe this is all a terrible idea. But it's how I'm compartmentalizing this for now so that you can subscribe to the piece of my writing that you like. The subscription option should be in the sidebar. If you're viewing on mobile you may need to scroll to the bottom of the page and tap "view web version"  to see the desktop version of my design.

I wrote my first post for my new blog and it is here: http://faithraider.blogspot.com/2016/05/faithful-steward.html It would mean a lot to me if you could let me know you saw it either on the blog or on social media :) 

Thank you - because if you are still reading here it means that you're probably one of the handfuls of people who have been encouraging me and have been reading what I've been writing, even when I've been quiet for awhile and/or not currently making a lot of sense. Love you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Delight and Duty

a party in my mouth

I wrote yesterday about the sermon I that had me feeling like my spirit had been twisted into pretzel. Duty to delight in and pursue joy God? A delight to pursue my duty? What? And what does this really mean on an ordinary Wedesday morning. The other day at lunch I felt like a little piece of my puzzle snapped into place. 

Sometimes I say to myself "I am going to eat whatever makes me feel happy" and I eat donuts and yet pizza and those foods don't love me back because I have a wheat intolerance. Other times I tell myself "I'm going to eat whatever makes me feel happy" and I eat salads because salads make me happy and they make my body happy. 

When I was pregnant with Grayson I was super sick. In an attempt salvage what was left of my life I decided to be more strict with my diet and gave up all things wheat. I decided that the headaches and the tummy problems I had accepted as normal were really not worth it. I had finally hit a point where enjoying the doughnut wasn't worth the headache and enduring the stomach problems weren't worth giving into the craving. At first I felt like I could not survive without it but gradually I found solutions that worked for me and my body started to heal itself. The surprising thing was that after a while I even stopped craving the things that had made me feel sick.

Maybe duty and delight are a little bit like that. Sometimes I say I'm going to pursue God but it feels almost exactly like going on one of those awful diets where I hate every minute of it. Sometimes I say "forget this I'm going to do what makes me happy" but I end up paying for it later. 

Maybe life in Christ is like making my body happy with a salad. I'm eating what I should and I'm happy about it. I'm not always happy about it, like as I pull all the ingredients out to make my salad, when what I'm craving is the pizza, but I'm usually happy with the salad by the time the plate is empty. I am not living by my feelings because I'm not always eating what I feel like in the moment but I am making the choice that I know will make me happiest in the long run. I am choosing happiness. I'm just not choosing immediate gratification. Does that make sense? 

What I am pretty certain of is that God isn't asking us to live a life of self-deprivation. He doesn't want to deprive us of anything except for the things that are making us sick - physically, emotionally, spiritually... He wants us to deprive ourselves of the things that are making us sick so we can be filled by the things that bring life to our souls. His "no" is for the sake of a better "yes". Duty is, I guess, the beat between when we say no to the things that make us sick and yes to things that bring us life. It's all of the minutes between when we say yes to tithing and then watching God provide. It's all the heartbeats between when we begin to pray and when the Holy Spirit is drawing near.

I guess duty is kind of like lacing up your running shoes or grabbing the gym bag or driving past the drive through (without stopping!) - because we have confidence in the delight we'll eventually get from making the better choice. It's dragging yourself to small group, even when the morning has already been a disaster, it's showing up for the coffee date wholeheartedly even when you'd rather hide behind "sure, I'm fine. How are you?" It's sending that message, engaging with that friend. Sitting down with your Bible, lifting up your heart in prayer.