Pages of the Past

Reading is one of my most favorite pastimes. Give me a good book and you won’t hear from me the rest of the day with the exception of some “mmhmm’s” and “ok sounds good’s”. I’m super picky about what books I read to the point where it’s honestly a bit ridiculous. But man, when I discover one I like…whew, it won’t stand a chance. Within a day that book is read cover to cover. Continue reading “Pages of the Past”

A Generous Heart

How are you spreading love and kindness this Christmas? One of the things I love most about this time of year is getting to express my heart to give. Giving gifts is a privilege, never a chore. It’s something I look forward to. (I keep a list throughout the year of things God puts on my heart for certain people) It’s a way to say, “hey, I’ve been thinking of you…I’ve been praying for God to show me the perfect gift for you…and guess what, He did! I’m so excited to give you this!”
 
A generous heart reflects the Father’s heart, and He gives good gifts to His children. How much more should we be excited to give to those we care about this Christmas? Freely you have received, freely give…not of necessity, not of obligation, but from a sweetly sincere, purest of pure expression of love.
 
I encourage you to slow down. Press the pause button on trying to have a picture perfect holiday and live in the moment. Moments are fleeting and ones you will someday look back and wish you had again. Be the kindness you want to see. Spread it generously.
-XOXO, Sydney

 

Merry & Bright: Enjoying Christmas in all Seasons of Life

Christmas…it’s hard to not love a holiday that encompasses such warmth. It enables opportunities for acts of kindness that may normally be ignored. It’s a season where love transcends distance and barriers. It brings people together and most importantly glorifies our majestic and mighty Savior, Jesus Christ: the King of Kings.

Continue reading “Merry & Bright: Enjoying Christmas in all Seasons of Life”

Facing Life’s Obligations

If you’re anything like me, you really enjoy your freedom and independence! You also relish quiet downtime and enjoy your space [so much so that your dad bought you a sticker that says “I need my space” at NASA]. So if you’re anything like that, this blog may be for you. And, if you’re not like that…well, I hope you stick around anyway! Today I’m sharing about my struggle with obligation. I hesitate to share because a) it’s not fun to admit you’re having a hard time with something [Surprise! I’m human!] and b) this can be kind of a sensitive topic. It may not make any sense to you right now what I’m talking about, so let me lay some ground work.

My favorite thing about college was my freedom. I was the executive manager of my own time and decisions…THE queen bee if you will. When opportunities arose to hang out with friends or sign up for something new I would, and if I didn’t want to…than I didn’t! Simple. I’m very orderly and all about routine, but I have a wild twinge of spontaneity. So, I’m a bit of a free spirit at heart.

Being married though, I’ve been made acutely aware of this new feeling of obligation. It’s strange really. This feeling that life is no longer about me or my time frame…ouch…that hurts more on paper than I imagined it would. Suddenly, the obligation of adulting seems to suffocate the excitement out of me and stretch me  in far too many directions. It has made me feel really bound up at times.

So what is it about obligation? I looked up the meaning of the word and here is what I found:

  • Something by which a person is bound or obliged to do
  • Arises out of a sense of duty or results from customs
  • To bind or oblige morally or legally by a contract or promise
  • To pledge, commit, or bind
  • Morally bound, constrained
  • Indebtedness

Interesting huh? At its core, I think I really felt bound and constrained to unspoken expectations. Myself being the largest culprit, holding myself to an impossible standard of perfection. [This is something I’m putting a priority on addressing, because I can only imagine how crazy things will become once I take on the role of mom someday.]

My sweetheart of a husband always patiently listens to me as I think aloud analyzing and overanalyzing. If you’d over hear me chat about this with him it would sound something like this:

Babe! I want to be free to live life slowly…to see opportunities to minister. To be free to say no. To buy a new dress for a date without fear that one dress will put us over budget. Free to enjoy hard work and doing things for myself. To say I’d rather read a book than be around people. To be jealous for my your time, attention, and opinions.

Free to be independent. Free to sing and be goofy. Free to travel with my you more. Free to take a day to stay in my pjs and watch movies and tv. Free to completely turn my phone and computer off on occasion, going off the grid. Free to bake and experiment. Free to work out because I want to. Free to want to keep to myself sometimes. Free to be bold, share my opinions at other times. Free to set boundaries. Free to not pretend to be something I’m not around certain people. Free to give grace for myself and others. Free to speak blessing. Free to be confident. Free to just like reading God’s word and loving on Him. Free to have FUN! Free to BE ME!

A lot of the oppression of obligation is based on things I’ve seen or heard…things I feel like I HAVE to do or be, something other than me. It can come from movies, social media, or maybe for you it comes internally from your friends and family. I’m a bit of a people pleaser. I’d never want to hurt or disappoint anyone. Let me tell you though, feeling obligated to everyone and everything is exhausting!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” – John 8:32

I really had to come to the end of myself. After pouring my heart out to God about this, He gave me some verses that really set me free. I’m not saying I’ve mastered this, but God is definitely leading me to a life filled with more peace and simplicity. We aren’t meant to live life comparing and trying to measure up to an impossible standard. It’s ok to be different. It’s ok to not be perfect 100% of the time…there is nothing wrong with you! So I leave you with this prayer that I prayed myself recently and some verses that set my heart at peace. If you’ve ever felt this way, know you’re not the only one! It’s the truth you know will set you free – freedom is yours to experience today. Sending my love!

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“I love you Lord and know you hear my heart. I surrender right now my pride and the impossible standard I’ve been holding myself to. I surrender my desire to want to constantly please others and meet their expectations f0r my life. Please help me break the oppression of obligation that’s been suffocating me. Please help me to be selfless, but also have balance and not neglect my personal health and well being in the process. Help me to be more present in life. To not miss out on life because I’m so busy doing what I think I HAVE to do all the time. Please bring me balance, security, peace, and freedom. Amen

“The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners” – Psalm 146:7

“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” – Romans 6:14

“Do you know that to whom you present yourselves slaces to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.” – Romans 6:16

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:2

“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Chris has made us free and do not be entangled (burdened) again by a yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1

I will stand fast in the liberty which Christ has made me FREE and I refuse to be entangled again for a yoke of bondage.

Letter to Me

Summer is slowing fading away like a sweet distant memory. I welcome the change of pace with open arms. Fall is truthfully my favorite season. I savor the scent of the warm fall air and crisp leaves, wearing light flannel tops, and going to football games. There is something comforting and peaceful about it. I’m nearly ashamed to say that I actually miss the buzz of starting school. Continue reading “Letter to Me”

Silver White Winters that Melt Into Spring

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Happy Easter!!! Easter is the greatest am I right? The bright colors, the Reese’s Eggs, family, and of course spring dresses! Spring is in the air! (or at least on somedays it feels that way…Midwest life am I right?) The trees are blooming, I can hear the birds chirping in the mornings, and it smells…well, it smells so fresh outside. Continue reading “Silver White Winters that Melt Into Spring”

Lens of Perspective

Kirby and I have been doing a lot of driving lately…which means I’ve had a lot of seat time in the Mustang to think. Sitting in the passenger seat I see buildings new and old, businesses, a farmer working his field, small towns, and people flash by. I can’t help but think about perspective. My sister, Celinda, is a very talented artist and instructor at Iowa State University’s College of Design. I greatly admire her pure heart and compassion for people. In receiving her Masters Degree a few years ago, she did a powerful thesis highlighting the very topic of perspective called “Tunnel Vision”. You can download and read it here.

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In fact it’s her project that I have playing through my mind like a movie reel as we roll down the road. To paint a picture for you of what the project looked like (paint a picture…appropriate right?! Ha! Okayy…anyway haha) Imagine entering on the end of a rectangular shaped room. Down the middle of the room you see a pathway leading you to the end of the room and the end of your journey. There is a clear material draped from the ceiling to the floor lining the sides of your path representing windows. There are projections of Facebook, Instagram, email, Pinterest, YouTube videos, and games on the floor for the entirety of the path. Beyond the clear material on the sides of the path are paintings of the scenery Celinda often sees on her travels between Missouri and Iowa.

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Do you see where I’m going with this? What made journeying through her project unique is that the person on this journey had a specific choice to make. Walking through, we could look up and out of the window to take in the sheer beauty in the paintings or we could choose to look down with tunnel vision at the media projected onto the ground. Take a moment to think about this…

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What Celinda created was a brilliant illustration of tunnel vision and how she is sensing the Lord’s desire for us to bring what’s important back into perspective. We live in a world where we are driven with staying connected and staying  busy on our phones. I ALWAYS have my phone on me and check it often…even if it didn’t buzz. The things we can accomplish from our cell phones and the technology of our world today is absolutely mind blowing. Technology has opened so many doors of opportunity for business, for ministry, for outreach, and so much more including enabling me to write this blog; however, it was never meant to be a source of identity…rather simply a tool.

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Riding in the car seeing life passing by before my eyes, glancing down at my phone in my lap, and then turning to see Kirby flash a smile at me…gosh I just get emotional. I don’t want to be so consumed that I live my life through the lens of my phone and finally look up to see that I’m an old woman and have missed it. I want to see, to feel, to experience LIFE in 3D even if a single sole never knows about it. What we feel like is so important on the screens of our phones is temporary, but what is happening through the window of the car for example, is only for a moment. We will never get that moment back.

What’s really important here? Are we placing value on what’s really meaningful?What about the little moments we miss because we simply aren’t paying attention. We are present, but not really present. Social, but actually rather antisocial. We leave these moments browsing Facebook or Instagram and find that not only has significant time passed by, but also feeling dissatisfied. We live life passively, neglecting opportunities to be authentic and genuine.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.” – Galatians 5:22

I needed to take a moment to remember that I have the fruit of the spirit within me, thus I have the self control to set my phone aside and not let my phone or work or whatever it may be control me. Time is so, sooo precious. I want to live with God’s lens of perspective for every moment, so I don’t miss a single thing. Let’s put life in proper perspective and value the things that God values. God’s lens makes things that we thought were so big and important seemingly insignificant in the light of eternity and His Word and His goodness. In thinking about your own life, is the lens in which you are perceiving life through right now going to produce the fulfilled, impactful, meaningful, significant life you have envisioned for yourself?