You Make it Beautiful: Happy Spring

beautiful early-morning spring light through my curtains.

It’s Spring. And my heart struggles with this, in a strange way. I know normally Sunshiney Natalie would be screaming from the rooftops (especially after a maple latte this morning) that it’s SPRING YA’LL!

But really my heart is just in a little bit of a no-not-Spring place. Just a bit of a “let me stay here, buried in snow, I’m fine…really…” sort of half-smile place. More like the several inches of snow we got last night and the gray day here with my candle and vintage lamp and a warm mug of goodness in my fleece pajama pants (yes, still, at 11am #writerlife) snuggled under a blanket that has Love written in several languages on it. Just a little bit more of this.

I’ve been thinking lately of when I was little, how I spent so much time in my room quietly creating, happy as a clam to be in a cozy space creating beauty out of nothing more than glitter and gluesticks and paper and words. I would write all sorts of little storybooks and set up a shop to sell them to my mom for a nickel each. Just a happy little quiet Natalie-heart.

And then life. 
You know what I’m sayin’? 

Today is one of those days where I feel that unequivocally, life pressed down on top of my heart. Anxiety, selfishness, fear, bitterness…not so pretty.

See the truth of the matter is, I have a tender heart. I have a poet’s heart underneath it all, when we get down to it. One that sees pain and the quietness and the joy of life and takes it in deeply. A heart that has been wrecked with pain and brokenness.

These soft hearts like mine don’t just bounce back quickly. It is a bit more fragile. A bit more malleable. A bit more attentive and empathetic and a whole lot softer. It still hurts now and again and I face the thought of blooming into spring one more time with trepidation.

But I’m thinking how I don’t want an “And then life” life. Not worldly-life. I want heart-life. I want quiet-beauty-inner-happy-deep-well-soft-heart-poet-eyes-take-it-all-in-and-bring-it-back-to-life-and-breathe-it-out life. A happy little quiet Natalie-heart.

So I guess that means I do want Spring. The beautiful, life-giving, revival of Spring.  To breathe that in again and let it fill me. To sit with that for awhile, to heal and slowly be brought back to life.

“You take brokenness aside and You make it beautiful.” Amen.
Happy Spring, my dears! 

Remembering 9/11

Of course, I couldn’t let the ten year anniversary of September 11, 2001 go by unnoticed on my blog. My heart has been processing the events again today, especially as I’ve been looking through the videos, galleries, stories, and memorials online the past few days/weeks. It takes an emotional toll. It is hard to imagine that was ten years ago that I was in high school, heading outside with my ecology class, desperate to call and make sure my dad was OK in Washington, DC. (he was, just stuck in town for awhile). There are thousands of stories much more emotional than mine, but still…

I think: What if it had been me, during a normal sleepy morning at the office, who suddenly went up in a fireball?
What if it had been me, terrified, panting down 80 flights of stairs?
What if it had been me, trapped and unable to escape?
What if it had been me surviving, living with the horror of what I saw every moment?
What if it had been me, at home, waiting for dad to come home? For mom to come home? For brother, sister, fiance, husband, to come home?
What if it had been me, knowing my husband/boyfriend/father/brother had rushed into the flames, to save others, and ended up dead?

And I get a little bit paralyzed, you know? It’s too hard to carry all of those burdens. Like I have to always hold everyone so close that nothing could ever happen to them. I think, for a moment, I’ll never get on a plane again. I’ll never go in a high building again. I’ll never go to a big city again. I think, who gets to decide it was time for those nearly 3,000 people to die? 

But I remember a quote from the (boring, not that great, sort-of-interesting) movie I watched last night, Princess Kaiulani: Make room for the living. And I take a deep breath, and I turn off the horrifying audio and video from 9/11, and I will text my parents, and my boyfriend, and everyone I love and tell them how much I love them and thank God for them. And I will pray for the families of the victims, and I will remember that God is in control.

So, well, I guess I’ll keep on getting on airplanes and going in tall buildings and maybe one day I’ll visit New York City….and I’ll try to make room for the living, as best I can.

Simplify to Exemplify

Simplify Your Life to Exemplify Christ is my new motto.

The importance of this has really come to the forefront of my life lately. How we need to have our lives ordered: temples of God, where there is space for him to enter, without us needing to sweep an armful of junk aside.

I’ve been reading about ordering my life from The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman (wow, there’s a title for you!) by Anne Ortlund. Goodness, I have lots to learn from that title alone, not to mention the whole {rather thick} book.

After sifting through my life and reading lately, I’ve come up with a few guidelines:

1.) Simplify your thoughts.
2.) Simplify your commitments.
3.) Simplify your surroundings.
4.) Simply your devotion to Christ-like living.

One: Your mind is a temple of the Holy God. “Take captive EVERY thought, and make it obedient…” 2 Corin. 2:5b The Bible also reiterates over and over again how our minds are one of our most powerful (and therefore vulnerable) assets as human beings. There are many others who discuss this topic better than I do!

Two: Simplify what you devote your time to, where you invest your life. Think depth, not breadth. Another book, Only Angels Can Wing It, suggests these qualifications to any commitment: 1.) Will it matter in a week, month, or year? 2.) Does it fulfill a need of mine or of someone I love? 3.) Is there someone better suited to this who may be excited about the opportunity?

Three: Simplify your surroundings….I can breathe when I have a clean home, a made bed, and clean dishes. When we aren’t consumed with the “dailyness” of life getting away from us, we can be at rest in our minds and focus. We can have time to be still, space to listen.

Four: This one I made up entirely, I think. Be like a child with your faith. Come to the throne in awe, with a heart full of wonder. Realize that this is a relationship, not a rat-race with the others at church to see who is the “most Christian.” Live your life focused on GOD alone. Spend time getting to know where he wants you to put your thoughts and commitments.

~Discipline, you see? *my word for the year* The fruits of the spirit, right? Clearing out our lives so we are less likely to get lost in our negative thoughts, our commitments, or our messes. I’m working on it!