Letting go and breathing in the newness!

Wow….it’s been such along time since I last spent any time processing life through this blog.  Not being able to sleep due to jet lag has brought me here in the stillness of the very early morning.  That, and the realization that two years ago today, our journey to Scotland began. Once again, there’s a need to process, to grieve and to celebrate! So here I sit, with a fresh cup of coffee, my comfy joggers (that’s sweat pants for you Americans) and a fully charged computer. This will be long, but I’m making up for lost time.

dsc_5017 Two Years Ago Today:  Picture Brent & I sitting in our newly painted and nearly empty German apartment, waiting on our moving company to come and take everything we owned off to Scotland.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day.  It was sad and frustrating, and yet so very sweet as dear friends came to say goodbye. Our good friend Kim stayed with us and kept us laughing  as we waited and waited until the last item was put on the truck and we turned off the lights for a final time late in the evening. We loved that apartment. We loved knowing it offered rest and warmth and a much needed space for so many.  We loved the fellowship and laughter, meals, holidays, and games nights that took place there.  We loved living right in the middle of our beautiful village of Kandern. We loved leaning out our windows when parades came by and knowing that friends would be coming by to enjoy the events with us. Not only were we leaving a home, we were leaving very dear friends and three years of some of the most amazing experiences we have ever had while living in Europe. We grew so very close to our co-workers throughout Mid-Europe and there we were, leaving this region we had felt so intimatly apart of, to start a new life in a new coundsc_5049try with a new community. This part of our journey was coming to an end, and we were then about to begin a new role, new experiences, new friendships, new challenges, and of course a new time in our lives, to be once again, stretched and shaped to be the people we are created to be. It was a journey we knew we were being lead and prepared to take,  and there was peace and assurance in the midst of the letting go of what we had.

Two years ago we began our new life, here in Scotland. After living here for a while, people would ask me how it felt to be in here, and the first thing that would always come to my mind was, “I feel like we breathe differently here in Scotland”.  Not in the way that we breathe in and out physically, but in the manor of which one would move and breathe-in life and experiences.  It was more of a state of mind.  As much as we loved living in Germany and the people we met, we lived in a country where we struggled with the language and was always reminded of not quiet belonging. Somehow it felt different here.  Maybe because Brent is Canadian and being in the UK felt like home to him. Maybe it was due to the fact that when we needed to get a bank account or buy our car, we were able to communicate well and come to an understanding quickly and without much effort. Maybe it’s because our American and British cultures have many simularities that it was easier to laugh about the mistakes that were made in the choice of words we might use.  It might just be a combination of all of this, but non the less, there just was no better way to express what I was feeling.  I just breathe differently here!

I believe that for the most part of our time during those three years we lived in Germany, we were in the midst of so many transitions.  New culture, new language, new community, first grandchild was born so very far away, saddness with watching our daughter and son-in-law experience many miscarriages and not being able to be near them, experiencing being empty nesters as our youngest went off to college, and the list just went on and on. Transitions can be tough, but I’ve always known that I was moving through and beyond the transition, once I felt grounded and could move forward with eyes wide open and with expectancy.  To be honest, I was beginning to be in that place of being grounded.  I had my friendships in place, I felt valued and needed in ministry, and I was ready to dig in deep to learning German. And then….we moved. So there we were, two years ago, walking through a new set of transitions, again.

dsc_1677As I look back at these past two years, we’ve experienced some amazing times.  We’ve seen a part of the world that is beautiful and some how reminds us of Colorado often. We’ve met lovely people and have started to build lasting friendships.  We love our new region as we feel valued and accepted. But I can’t help but also define these years as follows.  From the moment we arrived here at Loch Monzievaird Chalets, we began to work. We spent a month with the previous owners to learn the business of self-catering lodges, and then started to manage and keep this business going as soon as they left. We worked long hours working towards providing a space, called Cairn Brae, for our Young Life leaders and staff to love kids and give them “one of the best weeks of their lives” as they get to experience the love of Jesus Christ in this beautiful setting.  We hosted people and opened up our home, once again, to provide a place of rest and a home away from home.  All of this we’ve loved doing.  It has felt natural and apart of who we are.  But these past two years, if I’m brutally honest, has taken a bite out of us.  The task of developing a Young Life camp is big, yes. Movidsc_1400ng to a new culture and adjusting is big, yes. Trying to build relationships once again and investing in deep friendships is big and hard, yes. Trying to make the time to travel to see family is hard, yes.  (Ok, here’s where I need to speak for myself, for Brent’s story is his own. Even though we might share our stories together, this is my place of processing) But I believe what we’d forgotten or pushed aside is what folks like to call “Self-Care”. Some how along the way, the task became the focus. Some how along the way, the need to produce took center stage. If I’m again honest, so many have believed that we could do what was asked, and damn it if I wasn’t going to let them down! We were encouraged to take times of sabbath, a time to rest, but there was just so much that was before us to get done, that we just needed to push forward.  Now I know that as I process this, there are others out there that can totally identify with me. I know we are not alone in this! I also know, you know the rest of the story!  We became overwhelmed and exhausted. For me, I entered each summer with a tired spirit and unmet expectations.  In the midst of God doing amazing things in kids lives, I wasn’t always able to see or experience that joy I so desired and needed as my strength.

img_4269It’s been hard for me these past months, to not look at the past two years and only see the places where I fall short.  Those places I “could have / should have done better”, “could have / should have been a better friend”, “could have / should have been more spiritual”. It’s held me almost captive and held me back from living life freely.  I’m embarrassed  to even admit it.

But I see these thoughts as they are, lies.

It’s a New Day:  Here’s the beauty I am choosing to hold on to.  As with this new beginning in our journey that started two years ago, a new culture, a new job, and a new community…this I know to be truth:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Or as it say’s in the Message:

“Forget about what’s happened, don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present, I’m about to do something brand-new.  It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?” 

I have grieved and I have celebrated the past and it’s time to move forward. In deed I want to learn from these past two years as well.  I want to take that which I can change or improve on, and do it!  I want to be a person that offers grace to others and myself. I have a new mantra:  “Just be kind to yourself Amy, just be kind!”

I also, want to celebrate and move forward with a grateful heart. I feel the craziness of the past two years is lifting and again…I want to breathe a little differently!  Not to win favor or acceptance or value from those around me or even from God. I choose to breathe in God’s undying love, goodness and faithfulness. To rest in the truth that I am loved,  just because….I am loved.

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it’s not about……SIZE ZERO!

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This is a window display in Luzern, Switzerland. The rest of the sign says….size zero, but I can’t remember ever wearing a size zero, so I will have to fill in my own ending to the statement!

Greatest weight loss program EVER!  Here’s a new thought for me…instead of wearing jeans that, at this point of time, are just way to tight…I decided to buy a pair of jeans one size up.  Can I tell you how scary going up a size can be…but Guess what?   NO MORE MUFFIN TOP!  It worked!

Ok, before you think I’ve totally lost it….let me explain.  There’s a serious reason for this post.  A recurring theme of my posts have been about Grace.  Once again…I am needing to put into place, the posture of Grace…this time for myself.

For too many years, I have struggled with how I look and have been obsessed with my weight.  It can determine my mood and emotions at any given moment.   It’s something that I remember thinking about and struggled with since I was 8 yrs old.  Weight was always a focus in our family.  For many years I had struggled with one form of an eating disorder or another.  I have faced this beast in my life head on and have won and lost many battles.  I have dug deep and understand the depth of where these struggles come from.  God has brought healing and health in many of these areas in my life of which I give Him praise!

I AM NOT DEFINED BY THE SIZE OF MY JEANS:   So before you may think that buying a larger size of jeans may not be the best form of taking care of myself…I disagree!   You see for me….getting to a place where I can love myself no matter what size of jeans I wear is the BEST place for me to be.  Yes, I will continue to work on losing the extra pounds I have put on these past years, I will win some times and I will lose some times.  But it will be because I desire to be healthy, not for my worth and value.  This is a long journey I am on, for the struggle is very real at times.  Yet with the affirmation of a loving husband and amazing friends – I get to listen to truth from their point of view and not the destructive messages I choose to many times to listen to in my own head.

So…it’s about this….:  My worth and value is in who Christ is and who he is making me into be.  I am more than the size of my jeans, I am more than what I’ve done or what I will or will not accomplish.  I am loved and I am of value, I am worth dying for!  It’s all about perspective!

Being faced with our past

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Tonight I was able to go watch “Les Miserables” again…for the second time!  Watching this musical/film the first time left me with the following words:

  • Haunting
  • Powerful
  • Grace incarnate
  • Redemption
  • Transformation
  • Raw Emotions

To say the least, it effected me for weeks after seeing it.  I have always loved the story.   Yet seeing this version on the big screen left me greatly impacted.  I didn’t get caught up in comments about whether the actors voices matched those known for the stage productions. I just loved it.  I loved the cinematography, I loved the angles and the placement of the singers on the screen.  I loved seeing the raw emotions in their faces on the close-ups. I cried as they cried.  The scene in the beginning where the masses are singing about the poor hit me deep to the core – the images – powerful!   Now having seen it a second time…those emotions I have for this film are even stronger.

Yet here’s something new that hit me after this showing.  The first time, I saw this movie was in the USA right before Christmas.  This time, I was able to see it in France.  We live 15 minutes from this theatre – it was in English with French sub-titles.  As the lights came up, I noticed the older  French couple sitting next to me were drying their eyes.  And then it hit me…this story  is part of their story.  Their history is being played out before them…the cost of freedom and those who paved the way!  I never focused on that part of the movie…I focused on the spiritual connection I have with the movie.  Then I wonderd what they were thinking.  If they felt a spiritual connection.  If watching their history moved them deeply.  If they thought about all the Americans that were sitting around them watching this and did we really understand that part of the movie that was part of them.  You see, I felt that way when last month, we watched the film “Lincoln” in the same town in France, with Frenchmen surrounding us.   I remember watching a part of my history being played out before me.  I was faced once again with my cultures past and parts of it was not very pretty.  I remember wondering if our French neighbors could fully watch  “Lincoln” and feel the same emotions I was feeling.  I’m not sure…..

There’s something about our past, our history that goes deep about who we are.  Yet watching “Les Mis”….. this man was given a second chance.  A chance to become a better man.  A fresh start. A man devoted and given over to God.  It changed his past, his present and his future forever.  Not only his life, but others he came in contact with.

May I not live or dwell in my past, but allow the grace that God has shown me, change me for a life time!   Alleluia, Amen!