What This Comfort Zone Thing Really Means to Me

(*day 24// write31days// more here)

This month has been good--full of stretches in mostly little ways, some big. It's been fun to watch myself try new things and to say yes to things without hesitation. It's been good to peek into my friend's lives and join them in their normal.

But as I ponder this month and what it means, and think through if it's changed me at all, I can't help but think that all these things have been baby steps; baby steps to something more profound.

I feel this pressing in on my heart that God wants more of me, all of me, to be exact--nothing held back. That I can't keep a little corner of my heart and life for my own comfort and pleasure. That this life is more than trying new things or having new experiences, however wonderful those things are (and they are! definitely some of His sweet gifts to us in this life).

I'm starting to see all these baby steps as something that is leading me to break free of self-imposed constraints that tighten and hold me back from embracing all God wants from me--obedience and love, which is often uncomfortable and squirmy, and many times my flesh just doesn't want to do it!

I see ways in which my heart tends to look to material things as a source of joy, when the Lord is calling me to set my mind on things have an eternal perspective, because all these earthly things will most certainly pass away. I see God prodding me in the depths of my being to stop resisting His pull--to be something more to my neighbors, to pour forth the love of Jesus from my lips, to give of my time and my self and my closet even, to relinquish the faux grasp I have on the things of this world.

It's extremely hard to write all this, to sort of lay it all out there, because this is such a process. I find myself resisting sharing some of these things because it's like once you put it out there, then others are watching, and often there's judgment and the critical eye (which all too often I'm the culprit of as well). There's a sense of accountability when you share these things,  where if we keep it to ourselves, no one even knows if we are being obedient to the Father or not, and we're *safe* (but not).

(Ah, but relationship--we aren't meant to go it alone!)

I'm dealing with my heart these days and the tug of war it seems to be in. The draw towards material things and fitting in with certain types of people, juxtaposed to that small voice that reminds me of the greater things in life that matter--loving Jesus with all my heart and loving my neighbor as myself.

At the deepest part of my being, I know what God wants from me is to see HIS beauty shining through my brokenness, to see HIS beauty in the mundane, and not to be mesmerized with earthly beauty, however much of a blessing it may be (because certainly, beauty on this earth is a gift from God, but it too can become idols of the heart).

To see HIM in the unsightly places of my city, in the uncomfortable places in my neighborhood, in the messy relationships, in the sticky issues of the church. To press into HIM as the beauty and be enamored with it.

I feel my heart being called to daily decide who I will serve. Yes, I've made that ultimate decision, but many a day I allow my heart to wander off to the things of this world, instead of seeking to find my contentment in Him and allow Him to work through me in all situations, with all people.

And I so want to present all of me to Him today, and everyday. I don't want to cling to my things, cling to my earthly dreams, cling to what this world may call success, cling to how other's think of me. I want to cling to Him and Him only, and I want to let Him shape me and mold me.

What I'm saying is this: there's more to this comfort zone than meets the eye. God is showing me who I am and revealing my heart to me in a very real way, and I'll be honest and say I don't exactly know what to do with what I'm learning, but these are the things I'm pondering. And I'm on the ready for ways He wants to challenge me and stretch me beyond just trying something new.

And as usual, it all points back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and whether or not I'm embracing it myself, and spreading it out there, upon my family, my neighbors, my friends, my community, the neglected and hurting. And whether or not I'm loving the church and doing all this in partnership with them--it's not a one man show, thankfully!

So today is about clinging to Jesus, and being always on the ready to step out in ways HE wants me to, and skipping over the excuses and just getting straight to the yes.

It kind of reminds me of this old hymn that is kind of goofy and has a repeat line that says, "yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lo-rd..."

How are you being stretched right now?


Downward Dog

(*day 23// write31days// previous posts)

I feel the need to apologize for the lack of insightful words tonight. Writer's block perhaps? Just moving forward people, trying to push through.

My friends are having so much fun with me this month they keep coming back for more. Sarah (remember Sarah from the Phillip Phillips concert?) invited me to her yoga class tonight, and of course I accepted.

I actually have two yoga mats, and I honestly don't even know why. So I took them with me, looking all professional and everything. If only they knew the only time I've ever done yoga before was on the beach in Hawaii four years ago.

So it was very stretchy and balancy. And of course, Sarah set us up on the front row so everyone could see me balanced on one leg like a champ. There were several times I almost toppled over and started cracking up, only to look around and see no one else was laughing. These people are serious.

But not really--I think the playing field was pretty even. It's not like I've never turned my body into a pretzel before anyway.

Sarah is training for a half marathon, again, because she's crazy (crazy awesome! and yes, you guessed it, she's the one trying to get me to run five miles with her), so she needs a good stretch every now and then.

I couldn't stay for the whole class because I had to pick up Amaleah at soccer, and so sadly as I was leaving I missed the moment when the instructor walked around the room and wafted lavender over everyone's faces and gave each person a bracelet with an inspirational word on it.

But Sarah pulled through for me and sweetly grabbed a bracelet and texted me that she chose the one with the word Courage, in honor of this blog and my challenge.

I'm not sure if I'm truly being courageous, but I guess I have been facing some of my fears and embracing new things instead of holing myself up in my home when I'm feeling timid. So I appreciate that.

And I will say that at least for the first time, when I walked onto the field to pick up Amaleah afterwards, I felt like I could legitimately strut my yoga pants since I had actually been to a real class (I'm sorry, I'm just suspicious that not everyone who dresses in their yoga pants has actually been to a yoga class...I'm onto you people).

We didn't even take a selfie to prove we did this. You'll just have to take my word for it.


Hanging Out With a Cow Named Molly (and a Sweet Friend)

(*day 22// write31days// deep cleansing breaths// click sidebar button for more)

My long time friend Brenda invited Landis and me out to her farm today. Well, it's not quite a farm, but to this city slicker it is...

Pretty much for me, if you have a cow and some chicks and places to house those said animals, you have a farm.

So she asked me if I wanted to do some farm work as a way to stretch me out of my comfort zone, and of course I said, "Heck yeh!" But then she asked if I wanted to come in time for the morning feeding and farm work and I wimped out...

But only because, you know, I have children to feed and hustle off to school and all. You know.

I did make it to the farm by 8:30, but farmer's are up and out of there by that time. So she humored me with some sweet farm work like giving chickens some lettuce and learning how to be a cow whisperer.

Landis loved it--we fed the chickens and watched them come out and nibble. Then we went over to Molly the cow and watched her eat her hay and avoided stepping in the manure that had been hosed in by Mr. Farmer--they asked me if I wanted to hose down the manure, but I declined.

Molly was sweet and all and actually pranced over for a little visit and petting. But then she got all jumpy and literally started bouncing and so I grabbed Landis's hand and whisked him out of there. No need to be trampled by a cow today.

Ah, but then, the zip line. Yes, they have a zip line which makes them the coolest people ever, according to my kids. So Landis went on the zip line uninterrupted, not having to take turns with anyone. And Brenda and I continued our good conversation as we repeatedly let L ride into the wind

(but not without some snuggles from Mommy)

Inside, Landis played with all of her amazingly well preserved toys, the kinds you and I used to play with as kids that now our own kids think are so cool! We visited for a good long time, and I picked her brain about how she managed chores and organization of her family when her four boys were young.

She actually found the little box of index cards from all those years ago that had her lists of chores, goals for some years, little plans for this and that, she saved all that stuff friends! And it was so fun to look through it and gain some simple inspiration for being more on top of things with my own family. She is a wonderful resource, and so kind to share these things with me.

After some lunch on the porch, we did some more zip lining (and yes, I even did it this time too), and then had to end our sweet time and say goodbye.

It was such a fun day. I mean, I really didn't do any farm work, but as we've all been discovering this month, the new things I've been trying have actually been way more about friendship than anything else, and so it just served as the mode to get us together for a good heart to heart visit.

Ah, but don't forget that I zip-lined, and I did it for you, friends.


Eating Someone Else's Chocolate Chip Cookies

(*day 21// write31days// are we there yet? )

We have new(ish) neighbors that I've been meaning to officially welcome to our street, but for many reasons (excuses, excuses), I just haven't.

And it's actually been on my list of things to finally do this month, because, well, I very much dislike knocking on people's doors. Honestly, I kind of don't like knocking on even my friend's doors. I know, it's kind of weird. I just don't like that moment of nervousness that comes with it...

Am I here on the right day? Was I supposed to bring something? Should I have called first?

All those things run through my head.

But the hardest barrier for me to overcome with these particular neighbors is that I know the sweet momma doesn't speak English. And it just makes me nervous not knowing how to communicate with her.

So yesterday, in a moment of brilliance, I decided to call up my long time neighbor and very dear friend, who speaks Spanish, to see if she could team up with me and go welcome the neighbors with me. And she was so enthusiastic and excited.

She brought down her children to play with mine in the front lawn, and I grabbed the freshly baked cookies and card and we crossed the street bravely and boldly, rang the doorbell, only to realize they weren't home.


So tonight, we sit here eating chocolate chip cookies because we wouldn't want them to go bad or anything.

We will definitely try again later this week. It's not a lost forever opportunity, that's for sure. But it's just kinda hard when you get up the nerve to do something slightly uncomfortable, only to realize you're going to have to get up the nerve again.

I was so looking forward to having the initial welcoming conversation behind me. But what can ya do? At least my friend and I had a nice conversation, enjoyed the cool breeze, I got to snuggle her beautiful baby, and the kids got to play like wild hooligans.

I do love my neighbors...and am eager to make new neighbors my friends.


Fermented What? Kombucha....

(*day 20// write31days)

I love my friends. Have I mentioned that lately???

So Caroline and I had this little texting conversation last week:

Please notice that I said "Yes!!!!" before I even knew what I was saying yes to. That's how this month is going, friends. But I instantly arranged things in order to make this whole kombucha-thing happen.

(mostly, I just wanted to go to Caroline's house and hang out for a while)

But fermented tea??? Sounds gross. 

But Caroline doesn't do gross, that's just not how she rolls. So as good friends do, I trusted her. And as soon as we arrived she let us taste this mystery tea and it was wonderful, and my kids enjoyed it too.

It really doesn't taste like tea, it tastes like Italian soda. And wonder of all wonders, it's full of probiotics and amazing things that grow in it that boost your body's immune system. 

Isn't it pretty? (so hint--you can get these bottles at World Market, but buy them filled with Italian soda because they are much cheaper that way...then you can drink it up and reuse the bottle. I'll be buying myself some tomorrow).

I'm sure I'm going to get the order of all this wrong, and I will be calling Caroline in two more days once my fermented tea is ready for the next step. But here goes...

So this kombucha stuff is some sort of fermented liquid that when left covered grows these disc things that then "make babies," as Caroline says. So what we did was remove this fleshy thing from her fermented and ready tea, and poured some of the liquid out over it and then dumped the rest into another beautiful jar that she had put frozen berries in to flavor. This will sit for a day or so to extract all the berry goodness.

Then we took a clean jar and added some black tea bags to it, and poured boiling water over them and then let it steep. Then we squeezed the bags out and added sugar to the jar and stirred.

(courtesy shot of me to prove I did do some work)

(it's at this point that I feel the need to tell you that I made the sweater I was wearing. I did not knit it, but I sewed it, using my own pattern making skills {I know nothing of pattern making} and it's been super fun to wear!)

Next, we took the fleshy growth thing and poured it into the tea. I think. (I keep getting the order wrong and then when I look at the pictures I'm reminded of what we actually did). Then we filled it up to the top with water and covered it with a pretty doily. 

Then we put it on her amazingly cute vintage sideboard table and admired it. (but if you don't have one of these, your laundry room will do, which is what I did when I got home). 

And then, we kept kicking gently ushering the kids back outside and sat ourselves down for some African spiced tea and talked our heart out until I absolutely had to leave.

The tea will be great and I do plan to keep up with it and make it for my family, but again, it's mostly the memories I'm making this month and learning about the details of my friends' lives that is making me smile these days.