Five Minute Friday – One

Five Minute Friday = prompt word, five minutes, just write. No overthinking, no over complicating.

This weeks prompt word: ONE

Here’s the length and breadth and height and depth of my wisdom at present on how to live life when time seems short but things to do are relentlessly plentiful.

Do one thing at a time.

One thing at a time and I seem to get as much done as when I’m trying to spread myself between seven things all at once.

I remind myself of it, I write it in my diary, when my head is racing and my fingers and toes start twitching, “Just one thing” when I want to be doing all the projects and writing all the words and reading all the books and fixing up maybe fifty things in my garden and then theres washing to be done and phone calls to make.

But we’ll never do it all will we ?

And we can miss the best of it trying to. We can miss the simple beauty of a thing when we give ourselves to it, when it’s seen in a certain light, the soft corner, the subtle detail, faces, conversations, the kinds of thing you have to slow down for to soak in.

And it can be such a relief to let yourself do one thing at a time – fold the basket of clothes (always with a cup of tea at hand) or cook the dinner – stand and stir and taste and pour – or read the book (more tea) or pull the weeds (sheer therapy) or paint the chair or write the words or go to the meeting.

And let the other things be. Let them alone.

One thing at a time.

When you’ve a thousand possible things to do.

Wave the white flag and surrender.

Choose just one thing and then do that.

“Gripping, grabbing, grasping all feel like the only way forward when we’re terrified and vulnerable. We want to believe we have some kind of control. But our real strength is found in opening our hands. We say ‘Here God. Its all yours. Help me breath and begin again”. Leeana Tankersley

See what others have done with there five minutes here

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Ducks in a Row

Ducks in a row?

Well yes they are.

Literally.

Two of them in fact. We’ve added a pair of fluffy tailed ducklings to our backyard brood because its spring and we couldn’t help ourselves. They’re growing fast, there are plans for a pond and a bigger enclosure and they make our backyard farm yard feel complete.

Metaphorically?

It’s a different story

Ducks in a row. Not even nearly. Never have been really – even when I had all the time in the world I didn’t run a tight ship but now throw in:

  • working full time
  • a healthy dose of midlife forgetfulness
  • and a weird sort of inertia that hits me at odd times (that I can only put down to still feeling the loss of my mum)

– – – and right there you’ve got myself  a whole new level of crazy going on.

But that never did stop a good life from happening in the meantime.

Its struck me though whilst I seem to have little capacity to do anything more than go to work, cook dinner and keep the washing machine going that the things that bring us the most joy aren’t always the things we’ve wrestled to the ground with our super human powers and shaken the living daylights out of.

It seems to me the best of it comes on the breeze, like a gift, un bidden, as good as mercy,

The best of it comes in under the doorways and along the windowsills of our ordinary lives and surprises the heck out of us somedays.

Wearing ordinary clothes and maybe a stupid grin.

Easy to miss, easy to think of as nothing.

Theres been a few of late. Arriving without trumpet or fanfare – like a life line – some practical, some simple and sweet, some enough to make you weep.

I’ll give you the frontrunners 

The gift of good light – – – – 

I don’t ever remember a winter so sunny or filled with so much light as this last one and my room right at the front of the house seemed to catch it all. In January I took down the lined curtains that had been up at my windows for years and replaced them with filmy white ones and never guessed at the gift I was giving myself for the winter. It’s been my cozy warm bright spot over the cold winter months especially in the morning when the coffee and the quiet and the warmth and the light combined to save my sanity. That light has seemed to warm me from the inside out. And then theres the view that I don’t know I’d ever taken that much notice of before. Its nothing spectacular by any means, a few trees, a glimpse of the mountains, some rooftops and powerlines too but the window is so wide it feels like I have my very own front row seat to the sky and the trees and all that light and crazy yes but it’s felt like it’s been there just for me.

The gift of clean floors – – – – –

My brother in law loves his gadgets and high tech gizmos and the most recent one he was all in a ruffle about was one of those self operating robot vacuum cleaners. He was insistent it would do nothing less then change our lives. In the end we gave in, it was just easier. He ordered it online, it arrived on our doorstep a day or two later and true to his many words our floors have never looked so clean and shiny and gorgeous. Ken so impressed kept staring at them saying “I think it’s polishing them as well”. No Ken thats just what clean floors look like. I now come home to dust free floors that I haven’t had to clean myself – a Godsend. So no more of this.

And more of this.

I  never would have thought to buy one myself , would never have gone looking. So grateful for persistent tech head brother in laws who don’t mind telling you what he thinks you need.

The gift of my boy surprising me – – – – 

Oh you know how you worry over them, are they doing ok, are they happy, are they dreaming big dreams? will they find their place. So much worry. So many prayers. Quiet confidence somedays and then sheer panic others. But then occasionally something happens and it feels like mercy poured out. A few weeks ago I came home from work to find Ethan in the lounge room reading “The Book Thief” and if that wasn’t shock enough he had his iPad open and was writing away. He was saying words like “essay” and “narrative style” and “I talked to the teacher about it” and “it’s quite interesting”.  I thought I had a lodger.  I was so stunned I didn’t say too much less he stopped. I just helped as requested and didn’t make a big deal. But oh it did my heart good. Smart he is but an academic he isn’t and he’s fought being at school from the get go but every now when I’m wondering again what the answer is there’s a ray of light. A beacon of hope. He finds something that he enjoys, he shows that he’s trying, he reads a book !?! and I can feel my stomach unclench a little. He’s started doing woodworking as well – he’s made a new reptile cage and is working on a frog cage (don’t ask where they’ll go). Yes he’s made one hell of a mess in the back room and I’ve spent a lot of weekends driving him back and forward to Bunnings for supplies but it makes him happy, which makes me happy. Like me he likes to have a project to work on and that creative flow is something life giving. Maybe some of its coming with age but more than that it feels like all sorts of answered prayer and it’s helped this mama sleep better at night.

The gift of baby bunnies – – – – 

Yes thats right – four weeks ago now much to our extreme surprise one of our two rabbits Lavender produced a litter of bunnies. Surprised not because we didn’t know rabbits have babies but because we thought we had two females. Oh my goodness the excitement and squeals of delight and tears and oohing and ahhing on discovering those babies. Yes just nature doing it’s thing maybe but oh it’s been a treat, oh they’re so sweet. A little bit of story book magic in our back garden – who’d have thought.

Theres been oodles more  – they look like everyday life but I call them grace. I call them a kindness.

I call them a cool breeze on a hot day.

It’s all about pressure. When it comes at you from all sides equally, nothing moves. But if one side exerts more than the other, you just might find yourself in flight. Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult

So many seasons of our lives can be awkward and messy with rough edges and loose ends and nothing where we think it should be. Beginning and endings are especially so and it seems we are always at the beginning or end of something. Middle bits are messy too when we feel stuck or in a lull or a gap and not quite sure if we are moving anywhere but life is always moving, children are growing and changing, winter ends and summer comes, the garden grows, the duckings double in size and God has his eye on us, God is working His wonders in unseen places and we are seen and known by name just the same.

So we do what we can

and then we lean into the breeze.

Maybe nothing remakes everything like grace.

Maybe – wreckage always births resurrection

Maybe   

Trust that what is coming at you.

Is God coming for you.

Trust that what looks like a wave to carry you away, is the wave that will carry you to shore.

Trust and obey the one who walks on the waves

Will make a highway

Out of everything rising in your way.

Ann Voskamp

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Five Minute Friday – Stuck

Five Minute Friday = prompt word, five minutes, just write.

No overthinking, no over complicating.

This weeks prompt word: STUCK

Now theres a word I can relate to.

“I feel stuck” is a phrase I’ll say all dramatically quite often – more often than I’d like –  to myself, to God, to anyone who’s bothered to ask or listen. It can often relate to bigger broader life issues (more drama involved)  but often it just relates to everyday what I’m doing around the house type things,  creative projects (there are many), my words, my writing – I get stuck between where I am and where I want to be and this struggle to move forward, to gain momentum feels like a common theme that I grapple with.

Sometimes its a “deer in the headlights” type stuck, a fear paralysis –  wanting so much to make the right decision that I can’t make any decision at all. Or it’s the result of wanting so much for the end result to be somehow perfect (like it ever will be) that I become immobilised. Or it relates to something put off for so long, that I’ve made such a big deal of in my head, any step forward seems inadequate.

The one thing I’ve learnt about “stuckness” though is that by putting one foot forward followed by another, and the tiniest foot will do  – you’ll find yourself moving forward even while your still feeling stuck. Small steps will get you moving – even  if feels like inch by inch at first – but your moving and that’s when things have a red hot chance of unfolding and becoming clearer. Simply put; your on your way and things look so much different from that vantage point.

I’ve written some words about the value of simple small steps that I’ll be sharing with you soon that were inspired by these words from  Leeana Tankersly.

 – – – small steps often keep us going when we run out of steam with the grand gestures.

A thousand times yes.

Grace follows every small step, every not giving up, every time we let hope  move us forward – grace follows, heaven cheers and thousands walk with us because thousands of ordinary people are taking small brave steps of their own.

Feeling stuck?

Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible  Francis of Assisi

Read what others folks have done with their five minutes here

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Lessons from an L Shaped Hallway

This post written for Women Connect. You can read more about that here .

“the in-between place is still a place” Christie Purifoy 

I read these words a few weeks ago now and as sometimes happens with words that strike a chord, they’ve stayed with me.

They made me think of my narrow L shaped hallway.

IMG_8553Its an in-between place.

In between the living areas of the house and more business end of the house.  I charge down this hallway arms full on one mission or another day in and day out. Another towel being delivered to the bathroom because no one in this house remembers to take a towel with them to the shower. Or on my way to the laundry, another load of clothes to go in or come out or be hung up, sometimes all three. School uniforms to be ironed, hair to be washed, a bath to be filled. Always something.

Theres the familiar give in one tiny section of the floor where a board has cracked that my feet always seem to find. Dust collects along the skirting boards and gathers in corners and seems on a mission as well – to constantly collect in great heaps just to taunt me. Swishing a mop along those edges right up to the front door feels like a victory in itself but that dust  – it has a way of finding its way back.

 

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I wonder how many miles I do in a day,  early morning, late at night, up and down – how many do we all do.

A lot of life is lived in these seemingly inconsequential in-between places. Not where we were but not where we want to be either. On our way.  Between what was and the place our hearts compass has us pointed – the longed for job, the house finished, our goal weight, the debt paid off, something to come or something to go, a big break, a move, a healing,  an answer.

And we can either be in one heck of a rush to put some space between where we are now and where we want to be or we get lost in the throws of the everyday hard work,  the up and down of the same hallways, the in and out, the dust piling up again and lose sight of where we are headed. Drowning not waving.

Either way the difference its the same – we can miss  the gift that is the “right now”.  We can miss the unique shape and rise and fall of it, we can miss what it might tell us and teach us, we might even miss how lovely it might be.

And I get it  “right here” might not be where you thought you would be because you know as well as I that  life can’t be trusted to stay the same or to do whats its told. Right now  might feel about as  bent out of shape as it can get with so many “not yets” and “what ifs”, with so many questions and so much waiting –  that somedays we might wonder whose life we are living because it sure doesn’t feel like ours.

Yet even in the in-between place are signs and signposts of the eternal running right beneath our fingertips, just below the surface of our daily work. They point the way , they remind us of who we are are and where we are going, they remind us  of the story God is writing with our lives right here, right now.

I’ll tell you a few other things about my skinny hallway

Ken  calls it “the gallery” as a bit of a joke but space is short in my tiny house so each part has to play its part – even the most ordinary of parts. So its lined with paintings  – mostly the thrifted kind and mostly Australian landscapes  because I love a country landscape and they make me feel peaceful just looking at them. Photographs too – wedding photos and the cutest of the squishy faced baby photos some in ornate frames some in old vintage frames because I like the mix of the old and new and I love their little faces. I’ve positioned them all in groups so there is a “view”  as you come out of each door. Destinations for my eyes – like mini breaks and a diversion from the dust.IMG_8547IMG_8546In one corner theres nothing. A  hall table was there for a very long while and now that its  moved the clear space too is a relief for my eyes. No furniture to wash around, nothing in the way just clear uncluttered space.

On the walls theres maybe a 100 tiny nail holes  that have been made in the wrong place – evidence of my picture arranging and rearranging and arranging again and not measuring ever. I’d like to think I was more precise and methodical but the nail holes tell the real  story.

Theres a bookshelf  too – an ordinary looking bookshelf except that it isn’t. My father made it for me what must be 30 years ago now and its still standing strong despite its age. Me too I hope. It was pushed into the hallway just to get it out of the way and it seems like it was made for this space. A happy accident. Its narrow and tucks into the wall barely noticeable but its a spot to put a few nice things on and the extra storage goes a long way.

IMG_1335IMG_1337It just so happens that it covers a hole in the wall. A dual purpose right there.  That hole was first made by Ken years ago now. He hit it out sheer frustration when our boy Ethan 18 months old broke his leg for the second time in a year and it felt like our world was coming apart again.  Our only job to protect him and keep him safe and we couldn’t seem to do it. Ken patched the hole later and painted it over but a few years later it was opened up again. Exact same spot. This time by Ethan himself. His hand went through it running full pelt up the hallway playing chasies with a friend on his back. Yes a house full of kids, a birthday party I think, a rollicking good game being had and Ethan a force to be reckoned with. My heart full. I remember Ken being a bit annoyed at the time with the kids “wrecking the house” but truly that ship had sailed a while before and I reminded him, as good wives do why the wall was weak in that spot. I reminded him that Ethan running full pelt anywhere was our prayers of years ago answered, our dreams come true with his bones gaining strength all the time and him growing fast and big and strong.

Yes even the things we think broken and gaping, the things we might choose to cover up carry messages of our redemption and are reminders of where God has shown up in our lives.

And in my rushing up and down that hallway I only have to catch a glimpse of those sweet little baby faces and I’m reminded oh this place is good and this life is good. My prayers were answered and I can believe they’ll continue to be answered. The questions and the frustrations and the overwhelm are real but they find there place smaller and less significant than they seemed before because life is a whole lot of dealing with “bad”  but just look how glorious is the good. IMG_8549IMG_8548IMG_8550

“Even in the waiting, the listening, and the watching for what’s next, there is still so much right here”. Emily P Freeman

So much goodness, so much life, so much of our  story, so much of God,  more than we often see with our eyes or even touch with our hands.

Even narrow L shaped hallways can remind us of that  somedays

So here’s a few thoughts – in that in between place:

  • Create some diversions from the dust – some mini breaks for your heart and soul.
  • Leave yourself a little blank space.
  • Let the nail hole shows. Remember our mistakes tell our story as much as our victories.
  • Celebrate  the “happy accidents”
  • Look for the  handprint of God in your life, where He’s been and what he has done. There’s a bigger story being told.

“Surely the Lord is in this place and I wasn’t even aware of it” Genesis 28:16

Yes  God is found in these awkward in between places, in the cracks and crevices of our lives, in the places we feel stranded or squeezed in tight.  The very one who sent Jesus down low to the ground with a purpose,  to embrace us travellers weary and dusty and dirty from the road.

xxx

 

Linking Up with #Porch Stories with Kristin Hill Taylor and Chasing Community with Brenda Bradford Ottinger and Tell His Story with Jennifer Dukes Lee

The Things That Grow

This post written for Women Connect. You can find out all about that here .

www.waterintowineblog.com

You know I’m always amazed by what grows and what doesn’t grow in my garden. Wild and overgrown for the most part yet its a constant source of inspiration to me.

Not too long ago in my wandering around out there I pushed the tiniest tendril of a plant that had fallen off another plant into a pot. I planted it  with only a whisper of hope it might grow and then forget about it.

Another of my potted plants though got the best of my attention. I moved it into the best light and out of the wind, watered it and fussed over it and kept a close eye but it was having none of it – it shrivelled and died just the same. 

My forgotten little plant though while I was busy elsewhere had doubled its size and was growing lush and strong and lovely. 

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Ecclesiastes 11:6

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We sow the seed, we pour the water, we think we know –  but the growth, the life – that magic isn’t ours.  

That part is Gods. 

And we can lament over whats not growing in our lives, throw ourselves prostrate trying to will something out of the ground that we are convinced should be growing but to no avail. And while our back is turned, in the place we least expect it,  is the growth and life and increase we are longing for.  Our prayers answered after all.

Ours to sow but its Gods to grow. 

Lets not miss what’s growing by fretting over whats not. 

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And April is as good a time as any to consider just that. We are four months in and the place we started in January may not be the place we find ourselves in now.  Things dreamed of and hoped for then may be scarce on the ground right now and disappointment is always tempting.

Gods timing is everything and His beats ours.  And goodness me He grows unexpected things in the unlikeliest of places.

www.waterintowineblog.com

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So whats growing for you right now 

Whats feels like a sweet stream coming up on the inside

Whats bringing you life 

Whats bringing you joy

Whats bringing you peace

Let’s take  in the fragrance and shape and feel of that.

Let’s take our fill of whats growing and be inspired by that 

The rest is God’s.

Love to you all today

Tracey xx

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