Control – or Lack Thereof

condo1

Nathan and I listed our condo last month.  Since then we’ve had a grand total of two showings.

It’s discouraging.

We’re not in a position where we have to sell – but two kids and a dog in a two bedroom condo is getting tight.  We have enough money for a down payment on a house in the neighbourhood we want to be in, the only problem is selling our condo.

We bought in 2008, three months before the “crash”.  After eight years of living here, if we sell it at the price it’s currently listed at, we’ll still be losing money.

Like I said, it’s discouraging.

I like to be in control.  Before we listed, Nathan and I spent a month and a half renovating.  Painting, cutting and installing new baseboards, replacing taps and molding.  We were motivated, certain that we were going to sell our place within the first week!

Unfortunately when it comes to selling houses, you can only control so much.  We made the place look as amazing as we could, we keep it spotless in case of an unexpected showing – but we can’t control what potential buyers will think.

I want to do everything in my power to help it sell quickly and for a good price, but I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not in control.

It’s scary.

It’s unsettling.

It’s stressful.

But I suppose it’s character building, isn’t it?

That darned old refining process …

Changing Direction

writing

Three months ago I made a commitment to write consistently.

Then I learned to crochet.

It’s a fantastic hobby, and I can argue that it’s useful.  I can make things!  I can sell things!  I can be productive!

But then I remember that God doesn’t ask for productivity.  He asks for obedience.

* * * *

In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t been blogging lately.

It’s not because I haven’t had things to write about, it’s because I’ve been struggling with how to write about things.

It’s my latest avoidance tactic, I suppose.

See, I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist.  When I do something, I like to do it well – and naturally, that extends to blogging.  I haven’t been working since last fall so I’ve had lots of time to read and research, trying to learn what makes a blog “successful”.

There are lots of opinions out there, but most of what I’ve read points to four key ingredients:

  1. Find your voice.
  2. Find your niche.
  3. Write for your audience.
  4. Be consistent.

It seems simple enough.

But then I started to wonder how to measure “success”.   Was I successful when I doubled my traffic?  Tripled it?  When my twitter or instagram followers reached a specific number?  When I started making money from my blog?

The more articles I read, the more overwhelmed I became.  There are so many rules!  It was enough to turn me off blogging for awhile.

Truth be told, it doesn’t take much to turn me off writing for awhile …

We’re busy with renovating.

I’m working again.

I’m tired.

My brain is fried.

I’m out of ideas.

I don’t know where to begin …

* * * *

I’ve been reading the story of Moses in Exodus lately.

“Master, please, I don’t talk well.  I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after You spoke to me …”

God’s response?  “Who do you think made the human mouth?  And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind?  Isn’t it I, God?  So get going.  I’ll be right there with you – with your mouth!  I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.”  (Exodus 4:10-12, MSG).

Moses hesitated, begging God to send someone else.

He made excuses, just like I do.

I need to be brave.

* * * *

  1. I’m overwhelmed by the rules of “proper blogging” – so I’m just going to break them.  I’ve spent so much time reading other blogs, trying to uncover their secrets to success, that I lost my voice.  Hence the four month hiatus.  How can I find my voice when my head is full of everybody else’s?
  2. I’ve never been able to pinpoint a real “niche” – and I think that’s okay.  I don’t need a “niche”, I need direction – and I have that now.  Whether or not I have courage is a post for another day!
  3. I’ve never had a huge audience – and I’m okay with that.  Numbers don’t matter.  Jesus only had twelve followers, after all!
  4. I struggle with consistency.  I’m not in a season of life where I can guarantee a new post at a certain time on a specific day of the week – but I’m going to try to drop into this space more regularly!  If I disappear again, feel free to e-mail me.  I need the accountability!

* * * *

As for where to begin –

“Wherever you are is a good and important place.  Start there.”  (Gary Morland)

So I will.

Thanks for sticking with me while my blog changes direction!

One Little Word

keepmesmall

Every January I try to come up with one little word – a theme, if you will – to represent the upcoming year.

And every February it completely slips my mind.

By the time December rolls around, when I’m flipping through the pages of my journal and scrolling through blog posts, reviewing the year, I feel like a failure.

So this year I’m trying something different.

My one little word is actually the theme of the last few months of 2015:  SMALL.

“These days I’m careful not to colour the world “small” in negative shades, as if it were something to run from or escape.  I want to start small because I’m human and dependent, not in hopes that my small will grow into something bigger.  Jesus will give me the grace to stay there even when it hurts and even when it’s hard.  I want to stay small in his presence, not because I’m scared, but because I’m his.  I want this to be a relief rather than a frustration.  Small things don’t always turn into big things.  But all big things begin small, especially in the Kingdom of God.”  (Simply Tuesday, Emily P. Freeman).

Joy in the Ordinary

Today I’m over at A Little Light – an online network for Canadian Christian women – sharing my story about how I find joy in the ordinary.

nativity1

Last night I was cleaning up the kitchen while my children played at the table.  I had brought the Christmas boxes in from the storage room and the first thing I unpacked was our nativity scene.  They immediately got to work setting it up, lining up the fences, arranging the animals just so, and moving Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus inside the stable to keep warm.  My two-year-old daughter placed the angel in its spot on the roof of the stable, pressing the button so the sound of joyful music filled the room. 

These are the moments I miss when I am busy.  

And Christmas is a very, very, VERY busy time for my little family …. 

Continue reading here.

Interrupted

neardeath

I nearly died at Walmart yesterday.

The “bad cold” I’ve been fighting for the past couple of weeks turned into a “bad cough” over the weekend, and since then it’s been a struggle to get much of anything done without causing a coughing fit.

I was feeling better yesterday so I decided to attempt grocery shopping after dropping Topher off at school.

It started out fine – we were actually almost done, with three more rows to go, when the coughing started.

I couldn’t catch my breath.

I was coughing and coughing and coughing, bent over the shopping cart, then kneeling on the ground, gasping for air.

And nobody seemed to notice.

My concerned two-year-old was patting my hand, saying “You okay, Mommy?  You okay? You need cough drop, Mommy?”

I could see people out of the corner of my eye, other shoppers, reaching around me for their Kraft Dinner and their stewed tomatoes – while I struggled to breathe.

It’s not like it wasn’t obvious, either.  I mean, coughing?  Doubled over on the ground?  Gasping for air?  I even gave up trying to be polite and coughing into my elbow in favour of clutching my throat so people would know I couldn’t breathe.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (but was actually only a couple of minutes) one Walmart employee (out of three who were stocking in the row I was in) abandoned his post to see if I was okay.  He offered to get me some water, and while he was gone I was finally able to stop coughing long enough to get a couple of deep breaths of air into my lungs – and it was over.  I walked slowly, and sipped my water carefully, willing my lungs to behave at least until we got home.

I have no idea how many people heard me coughing and chose to walk by that row.  I don’t know how many people pushed their carts past mine while I was struggling to breathe, looking away, reaching for pantry staples instead of reaching out to help.

And it’s got me thinking:

How many times do we do that?

How many times do we walk past someone obviously in need – and look the other way?

And why?

Because we’re too busy?

… Or because we’re afraid?

And if we are afraid, what are we so afraid of?

Open my eyes, Lord.  Help me to see people in need.  Inconvenience me.  Interrupt me, if that’s what it takes.  People are more important than anything else in this world – and I want to live like I believe it.