Enough

enough

 

perfection:

the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

 

I ran into the lawn mower in our garage this winter and now it is busted. busted.

I wear clinical strength deodorant. clinical.

I never make my bed. never.

Sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed. totally.

I always leave the laundry until Sunday. always.

Awkward. I feel this way always.

Not good enough. I feel this way always.

 

Perfection. Trying always.

Reading that definition. Why do we do that to ourselves?

It is not happening. Ever.

 

His grace is enough. It really is when I slow down long enough to think about it.

It is sufficient. Everything we need.

 

Love to you this Monday.

this girl.

ELLIE

This girl is ten years old today. I don’t know how that happened. Time moves slowly and quickly all in the same heartbeat. She has always been so alive: full of life, confident, overflowing with ideas. Not much slows her down, or gets her down, or inhibits her.

I know this might change when she grows into those teen years.

 

I hope and pray for her and all girls that they:

  • might have complete freedom to be who they are in Christ
  • might know that imperfect is beautiful
  • needn’t feel the pressure to ‘have it all,’ but be able to do the thing they do best to the fullest
  • might have a crowd of girls around them encouraging their strengths instead of tearing them down behind their backs
  • might know that the hard days really do mean something, that sad really does make you stronger, that joy always finds a way to seep back in
  • might understand that kind is always the best choice

…and also that burning your diaries after high school is well-advised.

 

I love that tween and teen age so much. I think because to us their beauty is so profound. We see their God-give potential, uniquely their own, deep inside their hearts.

I wish it wasn’t so hard for them to see for themselves

or for that matter to see in ourselves still.

 

Remembering those things for ourselves, might be the best way to teach our daughters.

Even though I feel quite unworthy to be your Mom, I love you Ellie. I trust God with that imperfectness. I am thankful for all the ways you challenge me to be brave like you.

What would you tell your teenage self if you could go back in time? 

 

 

 

The Gut Punch

gutpunch

Last week, I attended The Stranger Film premier in Grand Rapids. My husband works at CRC Justice and they have been advocating for immigration reform in the United States. For the past four months, I have also been doing freelance social media writing and graphics for the cause. I have learned so very much.

I want to share the words of one of the panelists who spoke on the issue after the film. He lives in West Michigan as a refugee from Pakistan, where he is a pastor. His wife and child still reside there. His immigration status is pending, and he will seek asylum for his family when he is able.

His words cut through the packed theater that after the stunned pause erupted into applause…

Americans live in their own world. They don’t know the challenges and difficulties the rest of the world is facing. They must know the privileges they have, so they can be a channel of blessing.

 

If you don’t know your neighbor or office mate how do you know what’s happening in the world? How can you relate to the global body of the church?

 

On the Pakistan/Afghanistan border there is a refugee territory. Those entering are welcomed, feed, sheltered, and protected. If a tribal people can do this why not a civilized America?

 

A total gut punch.

Proximity is important.

I am so excited for summer, but I intend not to get too comfortable.

I want to remember. I want to know. I want to encourage and make a difference.

What are your thoughts? Too harsh? Right on? 

have all of me.

all

I read an old journal from my camp counseling days. I was weary, dragging, discouraged, defeated after ten weeks of constant… my third summer running.

 

I swam with the girls for night swim.

In the glow of their flashlights they shared about cancer, popularity, God when they went home and into their schools.

They feel asleep as I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 

And three years of 7B ends with Imogene Herdman crying in her crookedly veil broken by God’s love. It is the proximity that makes life worth everything. I knew I would do it all over again, and in different forms I have.

 

My last journal entry from the porch of 7B: I want you to have all of me Jesus.

 

Being available to God,

Being in proximity,

Being bent by his love,

Offering that without reserve,

is the hardest you will do.

 

For months I have felt that bone-weary tired, used-up, defeated, discouraged, my heart like stone.

Then it comes quietly, by picking up old writing. It is because I am deep in proximity right now. I would do well to be gentle with myself.

He wants us to offer everything, but he is love in taking it.

 

Be gentle with yourself.

I know all you do in your work, in your home, in your relationships, in proximity.

You are more than enough, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

That allows me to say have all of me, Jesus. All of me.

 

 

 

Love Your Voice Series: Melanie Groen

Family PictureName: Melanie Groen

Your Family: Married for 7 years with a 3 year old daughter and a newborn son

Your Location in the World:  Southern California

Three favorites: Visits back to Michigan to visit family and friends, being outside and The Gilmore Girls.

What is your calling? 

I believe that God continues to refine your call as you grow in him.  All my life, I knew that God had called me to work with children.  It is easy for me to build relationships with youth and I have worked and volunteered for a variety of organizations that have allowed me to do this.  Lately, I feel like God has shifted my calling to witness to unbelievers in my life that are my age.  I’ve always found myself surrounded by a group of strong believers and lately God has placed me in groups and in a job where that isn’t the case.  I feel like he has called me to be a light in these relationships that I’m building.

Share a way God has worked through you, part of your redemption story: 

I am a planner.  I have to do lists at work and at home, completed every day.  I have schedules and routines that I like to follow.  Believe it or not, everything doesn’t always go my way or in my time frame. God has taught me that although it is okay that I have these schedules, I need to honor Him through prayer, knowing that I don’t always get to see the big picture.  I have learned to trust that God has his hand in everything.  Knowing this, I feel like I have been able to be a support to other people who question where God is or what his plans are for them.

How do you place yourself in the proximity of renewal? 

I place myself outside of my Christian circles for the proximity of renewal.  Although this is difficult at times rather than the “easier” friendships of my close Christian friends, I make efforts to ask people out to lunch or coffee that I know are not believers.  I go to an exercise class in which very few people walk with Christ.  In my workplace, my closest co-workers all don’t consider themselves Christians.

(Thank you Melanie, full of sunshine and the joy of Christ.) 

i love your voice series

gray deepens

grayWinter flows from day to day gray.

of a color intermediate between black and white, as of ashes or an overcast sky

Michigan does not see the sun in abundance over the winter months. This winter unseasonable cold arrived, like most people are experiencing. Also, snow, we have lots and lots of snow. We even had five snow days in a row… a gift, but all this added up leaves a little crazy.

The last snow day, the kids were rolling around in laundry baskets on my bed yelling boomer babies. This past Saturday at 9:30 am Ellie was in the kitchen hauling out salsa con queso and tortilla chips.

snowI had moments the month of January where I felt completely lost. I found myself standing in a room and thinking what in the world am I doing? Everything seems crumbly and not good enough.

Just like endless winter, I long to fast forward sometimes. I want to make the huge difference… I want the published book in my hands… I want to be everything to everyone all the time.

The first day that feels like spring in Michigan is magical. Thanksgiving cannot help but well up in your heart. There is sun finally warming your face. You do not have to wear all the gear anymore. In Josiah’s words, “I can’t stand to put it all on again! It’s like getting dressed a hundred times a day.”

It is winter that makes it sweeter though. The struggle, the dig deep, the persevering makes it deeper when it comes. That is us. That is proximity.

We are the people who carry others through the gray of winter seasons.

carryI was sitting at my desk Saturday night, completely lost. I had just read Ann Voskamp and a million other women who are amazing writers, confident and strong, very un-me. I took a break to check a message on facebook, and one of my dear friends had taken the time to encourage me. It meant everything in that moment, the gray seeped to sun.

That is us.

That is proximity.

This verse:

revelationEven in gray there is an open door to love. You can always give that.

Where does gray show up for you? Can you find open doors through it? 

even the imperfect ones

imperfect

One more #riskrejection link up with the beautiful Amy Sullivan. All these ladies have inspired me so greatly. They are brave and I love to hear their stories. It is powerful when we do not allow fear to overcome our hearts, and listen for that still small voice. You can read my other risk posts here, here, and here. I hope you might be encouraged from someone who is not so very brave deep inside.

 

I remember when I was little and in the backyard with all the neighbor kids. We would take turns flipping and twisting backwards on the rings hanging from the top of our playhouse. Everyone could do some sort of great variation. I would be there too, but my amazing trick would never come. As soon as I started, I would imagine my arms twisting out of their sockets and hanging limply at my sides. The risk was too great, so I just never tried. I would sit in a patch of daisies with my dog, watching everyone else try new things. 

And I went on to spend most of my life, watching everyone else take the risks.

 

Now, I find myself saying yes more often, even when I’m not sure I’m good enough. I used to tell myself, I would take chances when I was smarter, or skinnier, or had more experience, or felt less anxious. The day I started writing here I realized something, God takes all voices, even the imperfect ones.

Thinking back to my childhood backyard, I realize I have changed.

The more you risk, the stronger you become. God will keep welling up in your heart more and more… to take steps of faith in things that matter.

 

I promise to keep writing hope and encouragement, even when I’m scared.

I promise to risk swinging upside-down on the rings…

 

Would you take a risk? About Proximity is running a series called I Love Your Voice. 

I so very much believe that we all have a story to tell. We all embody a unique way that God uses to bring hope and renewal to others. The proximity of your voices encourages.

Read our first contributions here, here, and here. We want your voice. Contact me for some ideas for you to share your heart aboutproximity@gmail.com

The way you place yourself in the proximity of renewal will challenge others to take risks. I know it.

i love your voice series

I love Your Voice Series: James McLemore

moonrise

{A moonrise dust at the family farm}

Family: Married 30 years come July, Laura and I have three sons. Our oldest is legally blind and is a vagabond, quite happy and much too free. Our second is a new chemical engineer in Aberdeen Scotland, working offshore in the North Sea. Interestingly, he has returned to the land of our ancestor James McLemore who immigrated here in 1670. Our third is a playful high school senior.

JHM LP

Location in the world: My home is Montgomery, Alabama. I am named for our forebear Baptist preacher who settled here in 1817, and upon whose homestead we still cultivate a farm. He begot a long line of cotton planters, by whom I have untold numbers of cousins around here. We are not the Waltons but our ties bind.

 

Three favorites: The land of our family, my historic church, and the natural world. Sections of the family farm – including my parents’ home – are unchanged through several generations. They are simple and ordinary places really, where time pays no attention. Our Episcopal parish, St. John’s Church, is deep rooted too. Founded in 1834, the church is an inspiring blend of old and new generations, forward leaning with a respectful nod to its past. Baptized there as an infant, I suppose I am one of its many relics. Our bio-diverse state, on the other hand, is anything but a relic (politicians are another matter). It is a marvel of evolution of life. Nature nourishes through all our senses, and there I feast.

 

Calling: Calling is adventure. The practice of law has been a good fit and provides me a voice in varied fields which other professions don’t afford. I aim for reason and helpfulness, building not destroying. I love volunteering with nonprofits, mainly culture and art, the medically underserved, and the church — from children’s teacher to Bishop’s advisor.

 

God and redemption: At age 18 while reflecting on the Milky Way one sleepless night, I changed. I had a sudden and intense awareness of a consuming presence of love and of harmony with all that exists. It lasted less than a minute but left an enduring mark. Long after, I read of such accounts from mystics (e.g. Thomas Merton) and scientists (e.g. Andrew Newberg). What I experienced was real, regardless of cause. Everything thereafter has filtered through that moment. Holy Scripture seems to have emanated from such awareness, and I am convinced that through that tradition we can know God.

Storm Renewal: I see in nature a hurricane of creation, changing constantly but becoming new by building upon the old. I find renewal by folding myself into its rhythms and accepting the changes offered me too. It’s easy here where the climate is moderate and the seasons well delineated. When the community shares that vision — critical for the church — together we renew and grow. I cherish how all this is reflected in the visual and literary arts and, well, there too I feast.

Thank you so much for sharing your voice. Read a beautiful guest post by James McLemore.

hope. hope. hope.

HOPE

The sun persists in rising, so I make myself stand- 

Suzanne Collins Hunger Games Trilogy

I watched Catching Fire over Christmas break. My favorite part of the films is Katniss Everdeen, her face. She stands tall and does what she needs to do, even when it is the very last thing she longs to do. Even in her imperfection, she becomes a beacon of hope.

Primrose Everdeen: Since the last games, something is different. I can see it. 

Katniss Everdeen: What can you see? 

Primrose Everdeen: Hope. 

 

I had a wonderful Christmas break, but my heart missed About Proximity.

The break proved a needful rest for my mind. I learned a lesson that I have not been very great at taking seriously. We are often too hard on ourselves.

The expectations that we map out for ourselves can be very unkind and quite impossible.

I did that to myself. I often do that to myself. Then, I find myself laying in a puddle of dashed dreams, disappointment in all I am not, and exhaustion.

This new year, I am releasing impossible expectations.

I am not a woman who can do it all. 

But, I am a woman who can do something, even small. I can be an imperfect Mom, wife, daughter, friend, paraprofessional, writer, woman of God, servant. These things I do will not always be perfection, but they will be good and enough.

That promise offers my heart great hope.

 

Something is different this time…

I am trusting God that my imperfection will be enough. I am praying God will honor my desire to do my best, love completely, and ask for help.

I want to offer hope. I want to offer hope with you this new year.

May About Proximity offer you encouragement as you seek to place yourself in the proximity of renewal. I was going to type all the things I have planned for 2014, but then I decided not to. I am laying this year in God’s hands. Those expectations I press on myself, I am laying them down.

I am so very, very thankful for you.

Proximity would not be the same without you. Thank you.

 

Tell me about your Christmas season. What are you looking forward to in this new year? What unrealistic expectation will you be laying down?