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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Baby Steps!

Finally.    It’s been a  while since I’ve blogged.  I have a lot of catching up to do.  It’s been hard to gather my thoughts.  The best way for me to start back, is to start small – one thought at a time – “Baby Steps” you might say (hehe).  (I said small not short)

WE ARE GRANDPARENTS!   Wow….this is big enough to blog about for weeks – I’m sure for years!   It’s exciting.  It’s overwhelming.  It’s…it’s….wow.  Aren’t I to young for this yet so ready for this?

Our son and daughter-in-law’s baby girl was due in January.  Yet, that was not going to be how her story played out!  She was to come early – 6 weeks early to be exact.   She entered the world taking that first breath of  air right after Thanksgiving.  We had the privilege of  traveling to the states to be with our  families during the holidays and were able to spent sweet times with this new little one.   She’s perfect….she’s strong…she’s been growing and coming into herself a little more each day.  How precious it was to just sit and hold her.  To kiss her checks, hold her little hands…try to comfort her when she cried.

Things aren’t always how you imagine:  It’s interesting , now, to think of how many days it took for the reality to sink in , and to have the feelings of connectedness I was supposed to have with her.  Everyone say’s, “Your life will change the moment you see the baby!”  To be honest…it took a few days.  She was in the NICU for 10 days, which caused some distance.  I also never got to really see Katie pregnant, since we live in Germany – I still needed to get use to the idea that this was real.  I felt helpless in those first days – I came to help, but there wasn’t anything to “do”.  I had in my mind what this would look like and what kind of roles I should play.  But until you go through it…you never really know what to expect.  It took time.  It helped talking with my kids about our feelings and expectations.  All our roles were changing…our relationships were going through transitions (as parent and child roles are constantly changing through out the years).   It didn’t take long though, as I  was able to spend more time with this precious baby, for my heart to melt. Aww…there were those emotions and feelings I was looking for!   Again I am reminded to relax, breath and let go of mis-placed or unrealistic  expectations and see each day as a gift!

Roles Being Redefined:  Before Ian and Katie got married, Katie asked me what kind of grandmother I wanted to be.  I said…Present!  Well, as I sit here in my living room on this sunny, snow-covered day in Kandern, Germany….I’m not sure how that is going to work out.  But as I talk with my friends who are in the same situations as Brent and I….we will figure this out.  We will find new and creative ways to be present, new ways of engaging.  It may not look the way we thought, and I may have many days of tears for missing out on my families lives.  I may have days where I need to grieve the way I thought things would be – and they’re not.  to let go of those expectations.  Yet, I am willing to allow God to have this area of my life and redefine it.  I choose to not look at what I am not able to do with or for my kids and grandkids, but what I am able to do and do it well.

Final Thought for the Day:  We try to plan everything out, but just as our sweet baby girl came when no one was planning…she came when she did for a reason.  I see all kinds of blessings because she came early.  I believe she has been a gift in our families lives – in ways of healing, hope, dependence and moving forward.   And that’s what letting go and allowing God to redefine us looks like – moving forward…towards the best that  He has for us!

Here she is:    She’s beautiful!

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Something new to blog about…Hope!

Fall in Kandern

As I sit here in my apartment trying to get motivated to accomplish the tasks before me….I’m distracted by something outside.  It’s been quiet with my window open to an overcast, still day (wait…same kind of day the last time I wrote…oh, I do live in Germany :D)   But then I hear children playing.  Boys are yelling and girls are screaming.  I can see the scene in my mind….the boys are probably chasing the girls and the girls are running away, yet never to far away because they are caught up in the game.  It brings a smile to my face – kids are kids.  It’s quiet again…they’ve all gone away.  A sweet moment in the middle of the day.

I’m still distracted.  My thoughts are somewhere else.  Someone close to me shared something very exciting the other day that was happening in their life.  They said I could possibly blog about it, they said it can be something new to blog about.  I was looking forward to it.  It would have been a blog on Hope and anticipation.  But this morning the story has changed, as the news has changed. What they thought would happen will not.   Without going into another person’s story….I am left with sadness as I sit here feeling the inability to help.  Sadness and pain for them….sadness for me and others as well.

I wanted my next post to be one of excitement, of encouragement, and brightness.  Yet my heart needs a place to grieve and process – once again.  As I continue to process this heart breaking news throughout the day…I question, I cry, and I turn to God for comfort.  Not so much for me, but for these ones I love so very much.   In the midst of it all, I still believe that God is good, that He is in control, and that He is loving.  He is in the midst of their pain, holding them.

Hope…..as I think about it…it’s still part of the story.  In the moment of our pain and experiences, it is hard to see anything but what stands in front of us.  We ask why?  We don’t know how the story will play out.  We don’t know how God will make “beauty from ashes”…but we know Him!  Our Hope is in him.  So we wait.  We pray for one another, we sit by each others sides and hold tight.  Sometimes we speak and other times we are just present.  It’s hard to not be physically close, it’s hard to figure out how to be “present” from a distance.

As I write this…I’m listening to Mumford and Sons….I just noticed the chorus line that is playing over and over:

“But I will hold on I will hold on hope, but I will hold on, I will hold on hope, and I will hold on I will hold on hope, but I will hold on I will hold on hope, I will hold on I will hold on.”

My prayer today for each one of you.  Whatever it is, right now, that is heavy in your life.  I pray that you are able to hold on to the One that holds you in His hand!